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Jamaica Netball coach satisfied with preparation

...calls for more competition among Caribbean teams

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Things have been going well for Connie Francis and her Sunshine Girls in the lead up to their three-match series against Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Girls. By all indications, the head coach is happy to have her players back together on court.

The Sunshine Girls have not been together since January last year, when they contested the four-team Nations Cup against England, South Africa and New Zealand before the novel coronavirus pandemic crippled the sporting world.

“Other than being absent from the court for a while, it has been going pretty well. We have adjusted; we have had some of our players playing overseas in England and Australia, but it is good to everybody back home,” said Francis.

“We went through the pandemic and everyone survived that also, so we are back on court now and we are very happy for that and I am personally very happy that this is my second test series with the Sunshine Girls. I am really excited to see what they will bring the second time around,” she added.

While welcoming the opportunity to square off against the number 10-ranked Calypso Girls, Francis expressed the view that more series should be contested between the Caribbean rivals.

“I am very happy that Trinidad is here because I have always felt that we need to play more of our Caribbean neighbours, especially those that go to the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

“I think that we need to help each other with our game and this time around I am very happy. I thought that it would have been good to have Barbados because they are the next best team, so it would have been good to play them as well,” Francis argued.

That said, she pointed out that this series will be used as a springboard to propel their ambitions ahead of the upcoming England challenge.

“This series is about setting goals, small goals leading up to big goals. I am very happy that we have this opportunity to play Trinidad before we head into England because when we get there, it will also be a very stiff competition,” said Francis.

“I know that Trinidad with their style of play, whatever the score it won't reflect the type of game that they have. Ever since as a player coming through, I have always respected their game and what they bring. I think their style is unique, the way they move the ball and we certainly will learn a lot from them,” she noted.

And while winning the series is important, the bigger picture for Francis is to improve and, by extension, develop the various combinations of players.

“It's really about winning because Trinidad is ranked 10th and we are ranked fourth so really, we need to win, but we will be setting certain goals in areas of the court. We will explore different combination of players on the court to see if we can gel well together.

“The focus is on winning, but it is also about giving other players an opportunity to go out there and show what they can do,” Francis stated.

“It's been two years since I have been with the team and I think that they are very professional. The ground rules have been laid, they are here to represent their country and I am here to coach. It's a two-way street, we do have our challenges and we try to overcome them, but this bunch of ladies is very, very professional,” she said.

—Dwayne Richards