Click here to print page

Sunshine Girls give thumbs up for All-Stars vs England Roses series

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Gezelle Allison and Rebekah Robinson are both delighted to be back in netball action in England, but at the same time, expressed disappointment that the current series they are engaged in against England Roses is not with the Sunshine Girls unit.

The Sunshine Girls and the Roses were scheduled to lock horns in a Vitality Legends three-match series, but due to the continued travel restrictions resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Jamaican team was not able to make the trip.

As such, all involved in the domestic league and national programme came together to ensure that the Vitality Netball Legends series was still played, just in a different form.

With Allison and Robinson among a host of international players who are contracted in the Superleague, it was decided that an All-Star team from the league be selected to challenge the Roses in the three matches behind closed doors in Loughborough.

Allison and Robinson, who are contracted to WASP and Celtic Dragons, respectively, in the Vitality Superleague, were the lone Jamaicans selected in the All-Star squad and both goal attacks/goal shooters gave a good account of themselves in the opening game on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Allison, who made her international debut for the Sunshine Girls in the Vitality Nations Cup last year, scored nine goals from 12 attempts in a losing effort for the All-Stars as they went down 70-54.

“I'm disappointed to be honest because my [Sunshine Girls] teammates and I have been training from May without getting any break, so when we heard that the series was postponed, it was heartbreaking for all of us. But I am still grateful to be here now as part of the all-star team playing against the England Roses,” Allison told the Jamaica Observer ahead of Friday's second match.

While exuding confidence of an improved performance on her part, Allison also believes the All-Star unit possesses enough talent to turn the tables on the Roses and need only maintain their composure throughout the remaining games.

The final game was scheduled to be contested yesterday.

“My confidence level was way down before the first game because I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but getting opportunities like these will really help to build me and I just want to show the type of player I can be,” Allison shared.

“Where that is concerned, we just need to maintain a positive frame of mind, be more composed and be more patient on our movements on and off the ball in the next two matches,” she added.

That said, the 6ft tall player is also hoping to make her mark in the Superleague with an explosive first season with the Coventry-based WASP, where she is expected to add Jamaican flair, strength and shooting accuracy to the team.

“The main challenge for me would have been how fast can I get know how my teammates play, outside of that, once I get my fitness level up, I'll definitely deliver great things for my team.

“I just have to be mindful and make the right choices when I am on court and try to execute as best as I can. If we get interceptions we just need to capitalise on those and ensure we use our centre pass well, be strong, be accurate and enjoy playing the game,” Allison, who also plies her trade for Jamaican company Appliance Traders Limited, noted.

For Robinson, it would have been nice to have the outing with her Sunshine Girls teammates for the first time in a year, but understood that the postponement was inevitable due to the impact the pandemic has been having on the United Kingdom.

Still, Robinson lauded organisers for keeping the series alive, which she believes is a great boost for both English players and all international players involved.

“To be honest, it is just great to have netball back after such a trying year for the sport and so I must say kudos to the organisers that have put this series together. It has been well thought out to ensure safety for all and I'm very grateful for that and I consider it an absolute privilege and honour to be selected to play with some of the best international players in the league,” she said.

Like Allison, Robinson, who scored five goals from six attempts in the opener, reflects on past matches and prospects on remainder of the series..

“The first game went very well I think. As All-Atars, we are still a very fresh team and so I am absolutely proud of how we've performed. I believe we can only get better and I am overall excited for the remainder of the series,” she beamed.

Finally, Robinson, 25, said she is eagerly awaiting the start of the season for her second run with the Cardiff-based Celtic Dragons, with hopes of deliver more top performances.

“It is such a joy to be able to go out and play with such exceptional women and I expect us to keep improving with each game we play. I am also looking forward to an exciting season of netball after such a long break due to the pandemic,” Robinson reasoned.

“The Celtic Dragons had a great start to the 2020 season and so we are working very hard to keep building on it. For me personally, I just want to continue put in the hard work needed to continuously improve throughout the season,” she ended.