Netball

Budding Ward hungry for more international netball

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 03, 2017

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The name Jodi-Ann Ward may not ring many bells at first, but the budding Sunshine Girl could have tongues wagging in the next few years.After making her debut in their 1-1 draw against Caribbean neighbours Barbados Gems in a three-match series recently, Ward is keen on becoming a staple in the number four-ranked Sunshine Girls team.

Describing the piquancy of the international action as a dream come true, the goal defence, who hails from St Ann, is now left hungry for more.

“Playing for the Sunshine Girls has been a lifelong dream and I'm just relishing the opportunity and living in the moment.

“I think I held my own (in the series), but it has left me hungry; it was my first taste of international competition and I felt like I could have contributed much more. So for me, it's all about going back to training and putting in the work,” Ward told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Ironically, netball was by no means Ward's first love. In trying to skip track and field training while attending Moneague Primary, she hopped over to the netball court and from there developed a passion for the sport.

“From there, I went on to represent Marcus Garvey Technical High School in the ISSA schoolgirl competition. I also attended Dinthhill Technical. But I didn't play for them, and then I went to the Moneague Teachers College and spent a few years there before moving to University of Technology,” she explained.

Since docking at the Old Hope Road institution, Ward, 22, has gained motivation from teammates Shanice Beckford and Khadijah Williams, both of whom were suspended from the Sunshine Girls team ahead of the recent series.

However, both Beckford and Williams were present at the National Arena on each occasion to support the team and, in particular, Ward, who featured in all three games.

The first game ended in a 44-44 stalemate, with the inexperienced Sunshine Girls unit taking the second contest 40-34 before the Barbados Gems' 43-41 upset win in the final encounter.

“We are still a young team; most of us were being thrown in the pressure cooker like that for the first time. So I just think we were a little bit indisciplined with the ball and didn't hold our nerves during the moment. But that can be fixed with experience so as I said, we just need to build on what we have,” Ward noted.

“Every girl worked really hard and wanted to win. We supported and motivated each other right through; unfortunately, we didn't get the result we wanted, but there are a number of positives that can be taken from the games. We just need to stay focus and positive and build on that heading into the Caribbean Championships,” she added.

With most, if not all, the more experienced players expected to return for the Caribbean Championships in August, Ward, along with her fellow debutantes, will find it tough to hold their positions in the team.

The 5ft 9in tall goal-defence will have to outdo her more experienced counterparts, Stacian Facey and Malysha Kelly, if she intends to make the trip to St Lucia.

“Bring on the challenge,” said Ward, who also represents the St James Sharpes in the Berger Elite League.

“For me personally, the sky is the limit, and I would love to first become a staple in the team and then look towards getting an overseas contract so I can train and play among the best players in the world regularly. I would love to do something special to make my family and country proud.

“The experience in the Barbados series has really opened my eyes to what it takes to be an international athlete, and it has also given me some exposure. So I'm now motivated to work harder in training as I aim to develop a career in the sport,” she ended.

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