Bronze, an Independence gift to Ja — Bernard
MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of Netball Jamaica Marva Bernard says the bronze medal won by the Sunshine Girls at the recent Commonwealth Games in a heart-stopping, third-place play-off match against England in Glasgow is an Independence present for Jamaica.
"Every Independence we have brought a present and this year is no different. Last year (at) the World Youth we came with a present; this year we have brought a present. They did it for their country, their families, Netball Jamaica and just the entire country," Bernard told journalists at the Sangster International Airport yesterday evening.
"We had highs and lows and at the end we delivered, that's important. The girls knew what was at stake and they fought back and we are here with a bronze medal."
Jamaica beat England 52-48 for the bronze, after finishing second to New Zealand in the preliminary phase, then losing to Australia, the eventual gold medallists in the semi-finals.
There was a warm reception for the netballers upon their arrival at the airport yesterday.
Pompom girls, a mascot from team sponsors Best Dressed Chicken, as well as family members, friends and fans of the Sunshine Girls were on hand to meet them.
Meanwhile, Bernard said one of the factors which influenced the girls' outstanding performance was the need to prove wrong their detractors who had low expectations of them.
"One of the things that they told themselves was that they knew that there were people who didn't believe in us, but we used that disbelief and that doubt to fuel the fire that took us straight to the end against England. One of the greatest things is to do things that people say you cannot do. And to their credit they have made me extremely proud," Bernard stated.
"We saw what was possible and when the dust settled on this we are going to continue the work, look at what needs fixing, look at our inventory of players, see who we need to bring in, but this group of girls has surely, surely, surely showed Jamaica what some of us knew."
The local netball boss appealed for more support for the team going forward.
"We have said we can. We just need a little more help to do what needs to be done to give these girls an opportunity. They have worked really hard; we have done something differently. The technical director and the coach and the girls have sacrificed a lot and it was worth every effort that they put in."
Bernard promised that the team will continue to improve in time for the World Games, but she expressed the need for more international games to prepare the team.
"We will continue on this programme and intensify it towards World Champions. We have to get these girls some more international competition to get them ready. Playing against the boys on a Friday night will just not do it.
"We went to a camp before the games, we brought in a sports psychologist to work with them. There is a lot more things to be done. The work has just begun," she concluded.