Sunshine Girls praised in spite of fifth place at Fast5
Despite a fifth-placed finish at the two-day 2023 Fast5 Netball World Series in New Zealand, former Coach Annette Daley says Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls’ position in the standings isn’t a true reflection of their efforts.
After winning their first two games against Australia (38-36) and Malawi (41-37), Jamaica, led by co-coaches Shawn Murdock and Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, lost their next three group matches against South Africa (17-33), England (27-33), and New Zealand (16-50), which kept them out of contention for a medal.
They beat Malawi 36-31 in a close contest early Sunday morning to secure a fifth-placed finish, with Captain Romelda Aiken-George named player of the match after scoring 22 points.
Centre Adean Thomas told Netball Scoop, “It feels great. We wanted a place on the podium, we didn’t get it, but we are happy with our placement.”
It’s a slight improvement to the 2022 edition at which the team finished bottom of the table in sixth, and Daley, who coached the team last year, believed this unit’s performances was much better.
“I really think this was a fair attempt,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “The position, I think, doesn’t depict the play.
“The coaches and the players did a good job. Unfortunately, they lost matches that they could have won, because it was pretty close. We know that it’s about thinking those shots and the time it is needed. It’s a possibility they could have been playing for third and fourth or even the top two because the matches were that close.”
Star players like Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling, and Latanya Dixon were all missing from the squad, but Daley says the current group of players are improving with each international assignment.
“What I will credit Netball Jamaica for is that they are now exposing other ladies, and with these ladies,” she said. “With the exception of Romelda last year, these ladies were going to Fast5 for the first time. This particular team had a few new members, and based on their performance, it showed that they would have learnt from their first-year experience, and that is good.”
The medal drought for Jamaica in the Fast5 format continues, with the last coming five years ago when they lost to champions New Zealand in the final.
Daley, who has coached netball at all levels in Jamaica, gave a recommendation on how to possibly improve the team’s record in future tournaments.
“I think this is the platform for moving forward. My only advice is that we start training a Fast5 team in conjunction with our normal team, and I think that would bear fruit.”
Australia, who lost their opening match to Jamaica, were crowned champions after a 35-23 win over New Zealand to secure back-to-back titles.
England finished with the bronze medal after a 30-22 win over South Africa.
The local contingent of the Sunshine Girls is expected to arrive on the island this week.