WITH golden trophy in hand to match the occasion of Jamaica's golden anniversary of Independence, the national senior netball team returned to the island yesterday from Trinidad and Tobago victorious in the Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) Championships, four years after their last win.
"We really wanted to make this one special because it's our country's 50th anniversary and this is our present to them," Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) president, Marva Bernard, told the Jamaica Observer.
"It is important for us... because the quality of this win validates our potential to be champions... we want to be champions at the stadium and we really want to be champions of the world and this is just one step in the journey we're are taking," she added.
In the final game on Saturday evening, Jhaneile Fowler shot 40 goals from 44 attempts, while Anna Kay Griffiths landed 20 from 25 to lead the Jamaicans to a 60-40 victory over hosts Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday evening at the Jean Pierre Complex.
Entering the final day of competition with a seven-game winning streak, the Sunshine Girls outplayed T&T in every quarter to come away with a 60-40 win at the Jean Pierre Complex after leading 12-8, 26-18, and 41-29.
Sunshine Girls captain, Nadine Bryan, was pleased with the team's unified showing: "We really worked together as a team. It was very encouraging that's why we were successful."
The series helps the team in their preparation for an away series against England's roses in September.
"That was our aim. The coach (Oberon Pitterson-Nattie) really pushed us. Every game we played doesn't matter who we were playing. She was really pushing us to see how hard we can go because we know we have England coming up and it's not going to be easy so we couldn't take anybody lightly. We had to go real hard for every game."
Pitterson-Nattie was more reserved though pleased with the showing which showed improvements over the last home series against South Africa.
"I thought we did better in the marking. It was executed better. We still have to work on our court game. We need to be consistent especially when we go up against England next month," she stated.
"Still we're wary of the work ahead but it's a boost for them to come back refresh and really know what the work is ahead for us," she added.
The Jamaicans finished the tournament on 16 points, with Barbados claiming second with 14 points from a 7-1 record, and T&T third with 12 from a 6-2 record. Barbados also closed out their campaign on a victorious note when they easily brushed aside St Lucia 54-28.