Netball

My dream job: Sunshine Girls new coach

Jermaine Allison-McCracken says she is now working on the basics

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS Observer writer

Monday, April 24, 2017

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"It’s my dream job," says new Sunshine Girls coach Jermaine Allison-McCracken.


After months of searching for a new head coach for Jamaica’s netball programme, Netball Jamaica finally revealed the new appointee, England- born Jermaine Allison-McCracken. The appointment came as a shock to many as a number of Jamaican names had been thrown in the hat, people with an intimate knowledge of the Jamaican setup and first-hand experience with the current members of the squad.


The new board led by President, Dr Paula Daley-Morris however, shortlisted two candidates before settling on Allison-McCracken after the other candidate refused to agree to the final selection criteria.


Untested at the highest level of international netball, Allison-McLaren has claimed that landing the position as head coach of Jamaica’s netball programme is her "dream job".


"It felt like a dream come true," is how Allison-McLaren described her feeling when she heard the news of her appointment. "I am living on a paradise island and I have got my dream job."


"I love netball, I have loved it and played it for 40 years and I had to fight really hard to find the right person to get the information to get the interview (for the job)," she revealed.


Getting a foot in the door was more challenging that enduring a root canal as her effort to find the right person to speak with proved futile after several attempts, she explained.


"It wasn’t easy (getting through), a friend of mine asked if I tried this or if I tried that and I said I haven’t even managed to get through. The website was down, nobody was answering the phones when I finally got a telephone number, so it was really hard for me. In the end, I just sent an email off to Netball Jamaica and said this is who I am, this is what I can do, I am a level 2 coach and they invited me to come back for an interview."


"I didn’t specifically come here for the job, I came to Jamaica to look after my parents, but if I had a dream job, it would be coaching the Sunshine Girls," she said with a chuckle.


When asked why she didn’t go after the England job she said: "England is very, very competitive. It is great, there is really great infrastructure now. It’s well paid but I didn’t want to be in England, I wanted to be in Jamaica, she said with passion in her voice. I wanted the sunshine and I got the Sunshine Girls."


Allison-McCracken knows that she has her job cut out for her and is under no illusions about just how much work there is to be done for Jamaica to be consistently competitive against the top three countries in the sport.


"From my observation, it is a fairly new squad. They are fairly raw and I have drilled them on basic skills and I need to drill again and again on basic skills. They are just lacking in technique and form, and once you do that and build the strength along with it and then you build the speed and agility, everything that they do will be better."


"The girls that they are going to come up against in one, two and three, (Australia, New Zealand and England) are playing netball and training in the gym and on sand every single day, they are professional athletes. What we have to do is come up with some sort of competition in these girls who are training for only eight hours a week.


"It’s not going to be easy, but over time we will develop the skills from further back (younger). This is why we have the Under-21s training with the seniors as well. If we can develop good form, it is just little things that I have noticed, like how you catch the ball like always going down one side of the court like having choices, like even the take-off," she outlined with an obvious frustration in her voice.


"We did some very basic exercises of explosive power and knowing which arm to raise for which knee to drive, just basic stuff that I drill my players in so that by the time they come to do it in a game situation it is second nature.


"They are great at playing netball, they have a fantastic aerial game but when you are coming up against New Zealand, Australia and England, who are trained athletes, you just have to bring more.


"We have to break through with what we have (the current squad) and then try to get some more funds so that the girls can play more netball and train longer and get into the gym for more hours and play more international games to keep them at that elite level. Two or three games a year just isn’t enough," she bemoaned.


It is obvious that the new coach has a clearly articulated long-term plan which can only help the overall national programme to get better.


Time will tell however, if better will be good enough to also result in a breakthrough at the highest level.

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