Hurrah for Sunshine Girls!

Fast5 silver-winning Jamaica feted by Government

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, November 25, 2017

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Jamaica's senior netball team, the Sunshine Girls' second-place finish at the recent 2017 Fast5 Netball World Series in Melbourne, Australia, made a lot of people with vested interests happy. Chief among them is the minister of sport, Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

The Jamaicans copped silver after losing 29-34 in the final to the Red Roses from England inside the Hisense Arena, their highest finish in the Fast5 tournament since the introduction in 2012.

However, this was the second time Jamaica have won the silver medal as the Sunshine Girls finished second to New Zealand in the inaugural staging of the Fast Net World Netball Series tournament in Manchester, England, back in 2009, before it was renamed to Fast5. Jamaica had lost 27-32 to the Silver Ferns.

Grange, who also has portfolio responsibity for culture, gender and entertainment, honoured the netballers with a reception at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston on Thursday night, singing their praises.

“We feel it is the least we could do to host this reception as a token of our appreciation for the way you ladies delivered at the tournament, with the guidance and support of the coaches and the others around the team,” the minister said.

Grange said that although it was a silver medal that the Sunshine Girls brought home, the apprectaion for their efforts had its weight in gold.

“I feel so proud of you [Sunshine Girls], (and) although you missed out on the gold medal, everyone — the Sunshine Girls, the coaches, the manager, the other support staff and the president of Netball Jamaica (NJ) — can justly feel proud of the effort, right up to the final match against England.

“I hope the training schedule has allowed you [Sunshine Girls] a little time out to bask in your success from Melbourne. You girls deserve it. It was not the first time that Jamaica got the silver medal, but trust me, this silver felt like gold,” said Grange.

The minister also noted that her ministry will remain committed to netball, not only at the national level, but across the sport's gamut.

“As we all know, netball remains our most successful team sport internationally, but we must do all that we can to support the Sunshine Girls to be the number one netball team in the world.

“You have the commitment of the Ministry of Sport (and) I assure you of my commitment to assist in any area that you may need help. I am aware that maybe some things are not going exactly as they should at this time, that there may be differences in views, opinions and positions.

“(But know that) I stand ready to offer, if nothing else, advice. What is important is that the welfare of the sport remains uppermost in our minds and governs our action. Our dream is the team,” the minister affirmed.

Denzil Wilks, general manager at the Sports Development Foundation, says that the State-run organisation will continue to lend netball a helping hand.

“In terms of team sport we are ranked at our highest in the world at number two, and (that) is not an easy achievement. That is showing a kind of resilience, kind of indomitable spirit that is to be emulated among all other sports, (and) we will continue our support of netball,” Wilks said.

Dr Paula Daley-Morris, president of NJ, also basking in the silver medal celebration, said that the performance by the Sunshine Girls had restored hope and recaptured the interest of every Jamaican.

“They [Sunshine Girls] certainly gave us the courage to dream about greater successes. Jamaicans at home and abroad were encouraged to believe in the possible. We all noticed how well the team demonstrated the resilience of our people,” the president said.

Molly Rhone, who will demit office as the president of the International Netball Federation in 2019, said that she would love to see Fast5 being played as a competition here in Jamaica.

“I think that it is something Jamaica can do, as I really want to see Jamaica start playing it here in leagues. In Australia it is a big participation sport as they are doing Fast5 championships... and so we need to think of some kind of competition which is a Fast5 competition,” Rhone said.




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