Sunshine Girls head to World Cup with one goal in mindMonday, July 27, 2015
HOWARD WALKER Senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMAICA'S Sunshine Girls will leave the island early Thursday morning for the International Netball Federation World Cup in Australia with one goal in mind -- bringing home the gold medal that would be a fitting gift to the island on its 53rd anniversary of Independence.
"We are definitely going to the championship for the gold medal; nothing else," captain and goalkeeper Nicole Aiken-Pinnock told this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
"That's the whole purpose, that's the aim. My teammates are really positive, we have been really optimistic, we have been training really hard, and we are really disciplined, and I think this will take us to the top of the podium," the 29-year-old with 73 caps added.
Her teammate, 20-year-old wing attack Khadijah Williams was just as resolute.
"Last year we pushed because we wanted a medal at the Commonwealth Games, but this year is more important, and it's not just any medal, it's the gold medal," Williams emphasised.
Both members of the team were guests at the Monday Exchange along with Netball Jamaica President Marva Bernard, technical director of the team Jill McIntosh, head coach Mineth Reynolds, and Netball Jamaica General Manager Karen Anderson.
They discussed the team's preparation for the August 7-16 tournament, which is held every four years.
McIntosh described the team as the most even, in terms of talent, that Jamaica has produced, and said that they were physically ready for the tournament, which started in 1963 and is regarded as the premier competition in international netball.
"It's blood, sweat and tears for us," Williams said of the training that the team has been undergoing. "I have seen my teammates push themselves until they cry, but we know what we want."
The number-four ranked Sunshine Girls are drawn in Pool B alongside number-three ranked England; Scotland, ranked 11; and Samoa, ranked 13.
A total of 16 nations will compete for the title now held by Australia.
Jamaica is one of four nations to have competed in all 13 past editions of the Netball World Cup -- along with Australia, New Zealand, and England -- but have never won the tournament.
However, they achieved their highest placing of third in 1991, 2003, and 2007. They were fourth at the last edition in Singapore in 2011 and expectations are high this time around.
"I must say that I am really excited about the championship coming up, and I can't wait to get on the court and get the business on the way," Aiken-Pinnock said.
"Only the best is good enough, and I know that we are going to be giving of our best every single match day," she continued.
Jamaica have played a total of 116 Netball World Cup matches, winning 78, losing 35 and drawing three, giving them a 67 per cent win rating.
In addition to Aiken-Pinnock and Williams, Jamaica's 12-member squad include Anna-Kay Griffiths (vice captain), Romelda Aiken, Shanice Beckford, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Nicole Dixon, Stacian Facey, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, Anna Kay Griffiths, Sasher-Gaye Henry, and Vangelee Williams.
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