Netball Jamaica on lookout for more practice games

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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NETBALL Jamaica remains on the lookout for practice for the Sunshine Girls ahead of the Netball World Cup to be staged in Australia from August 7 to 16.

Fourth-ranked Jamaica were scheduled to host England in the final game of the three-Test series at the National Indoor Sports Centre (NISC) late yesterday. The teams were locked at 1-1.

Local netball boss Marva Bernard told the Jamaica Observer that Caribbean rivals Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados have also been approached. However, she explained that only one of the two can be hosted due to the financial limitations of the association.

"We have invited either Barbados or Trinidad & Tobago and none of them has accepted as yet, so we have to make the most of this encounter [versus England]. It would be good to get a team as strong as Trinidad to be here.

"But if not, and Barbados can accept our invitation... we do not have the resources to play as many matches as say England have, since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It's expensive to host a series at the NISC and we are also responsible for hotel accommodation. It runs into millions of dollars and we are going through challenging financial times now, so we have to thank the sponsors."

Like all local fans, Bernard would savour a series victory over world number three-ranked England, but she expressed gratitude that just as important is the chance to match wits with top-tier opposition.

"It is the only time we are going to face England before the World Cup. Also, it is one of two possible international series that we will have before we go to the Netball World Cup. We had a run at Fast5 [Netball] but not with the full team, so playing against England is the best competition we are going to be able to get from a team as highly ranked as they are before July."

Previously when Jamaica hosted England in a Test series, the latter romped to an emphatic 3-0 victory in the spring of 2013.

The countries met in a one-off encounter in January 2014 and hosts England were again the winners.

The Sunshine Girls avenged those defeats at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, defeating England in the bronze medal clash.

The Netball Jamaica president said the more recent games against the England Roses provide the national coaches the opportunity to try different combinations with the pool of available players.

She added that it also gives the staff the chance to tinker with getting the best out of towering goal shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken, who are both based overseas where they play in the ANZ Netball Championship. Of late, Aiken has sometimes been deployed in a defensive position.

"The coaches can look to see where they have deficiencies and have time to fix it. This series allows us to play with our two overseas players who will be going down to the ANZ and won't be back until June.

"It also gives the coaches the opportunity to try various combinations with Romelda and Jhaniele and we can work the mid court until they come back in June," Bernard said.

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