Sunshine Girl Shamera Sterling shoots for the starsFriday, October 22, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
Despite being one of the top performers in Jamaica's sweep of Trinidad and Tobago in their three-match netball series which ended on Wednesday, defensive player Shamera Sterling was not wholly satisfied with her individual display.
Sterling, who typically plays as goalkeeper, but was at times rotated to goal defence by Sunshine Girls Head Coach Connie Francis, was named player of the match in Wednesday's emphatic 73-22 win, which followed 71-22 and 64-32 results in games one and two, respectively.
The long-limbed player, who turned 26 yesterday, used outstanding athleticism and anticipatory instincts to shut out the opponents, forcing numerous interceptions.
Sterling, along with Latanya Wilson, Shadian Hemmings and Kadie-Ann Dehaney, helped to limit T&T's Calypso Girls in all three contests. On Wednesday evening, the world number four rated Sunshine Girls conceded a mere three goals in the second quarter.
However, the goalkeeper told the Jamaica Observer there is scope for improvement as she prepares for expected tougher battles against hosts and third-ranked England in three matches next month.
“I think I've seen Shamera play better than that, so I'll give an answer [on individual performance] when I go up against England. I'm not going to say Trinidad never gave us competition, but England's competitiveness is way different,” Sterling, who represents Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia's top-tier netball league, said yesterday.
She conceded that filling in at goal defence has been a testing but welcome challenge.
“I haven't played goal defence a lot, so I need a bit more practice. It was always goalkeeper for Shamera, and in Australia I only play goalkeeper. And that's where the problem kicks in with me struggling to play goal defence for Jamaica because I've not been training to play it. That's one of the areas I need to work on leading into [the] England [series],” she explained.
“As a defensive player you don't want to limit yourself to one position… so I don't think it's impossible to do. It's the same like a wing attack playing centre or a centre playing wing attack. That's how it comes with goalkeeper and goal defence. So as a netballer it's good to be able to play two positions and not just limit yourself to one,” Sterling added.
Though the core of the Sunshine Girls has been together for a number of years, she explained that team chemistry on court is a factor with several players plying their trade globally being exposed to different styles, while others are based in Jamaica.
“I think we Girls have a good chemistry because we are friends outside of netball and it's been a long time we've been coming together.
“[But] it's a different playing style down in Australia, so it's about adaptability. The structure is different and their passes are quicker while ours are more lobbed, long passes,” Sterling said.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the fourth-ranked Sunshine Girls had not competed since January 2020.
Sterling said that despite the lopsided results, the series against their lower-ranked Caribbean rivals offered valuable preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next summer.
“Though Trinidad are ranked 10th and Jamaica fourth it takes nothing away from the competition because we are helping each other for when we go on the bigger international level we can develop the skills to challenge the higher-ranked teams.
“It was really important for us because it had been almost two years since the Girls played international netball. And knowing that Commonwealth Games is next year it's good to get the practice now to get back the feel for international netball. Next month we have England, so it's good to have all that competition leading into the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“I'm looking forward to the game practice because we haven't played much international netball, so getting back into the structure of how the Sunshine Girls play leading into the Commonwealth Games is really good for us [because] the Commonwealth Games is where the big thing lies,” Sterling told the Observer.