Former player Simone Forbes says Sunshine Girls squad one of the strongest ever
Jamaica’s Rebekah Robinson (left) comfortably claims the ball ahead of Scotland’s Hayley Mulheron during the Netball World Cup match at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, July 2019. (Photo: Observer file)

Simone Forbes, vice-president of Netball Jamaica (NJ), believes the Sunshine Girls 15-member squad to this year's Netball World Cup tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the best teams that has ever been assembled by the country.

The Sunshine Girls' powerful 15-member squad includes seven players that are currently plying their trade in the Suncorp Super Netball League in Australia. They are Captain Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling, Latanya Wilson, Shimona Nelson, Jodi-Ann Wade, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, and Romelda Aiken-George.

The other members of the team are Vice-Captain Shanice Beckford, Adean Thomas, Rebekah Robinson, Nicole Dixon-Rochester, Khadijah Williams, Crystal Plummer, Abigail Sutherland, and Kimone Shaw.

Forbes, who is a former captain of the Sunshine Girls, said this is one of the strongest teams she has seen and expects the Jamaicans to create a stir in South Africa.

Former Excelsior netball stalwart Simone Forbes (left) accepts a plaque from former netball boss Marva Bernard during the Tarania Clarke Invitational Tournament at Excelsior High School in 2020. (Photo: Observer file)

"I am glad that I am retired because I don't think that I will be able to make this team," said Forbes, who is rated as one of the country's greatest netballers. "I think that this team is going to create some magic at this World Cup and I am really looking forward to it," she said.

"There is no pressure on them, but I think that they come with a wealth of experience and after their performance at last year's Commonwealth Games, I expect them to go out there later this summer and really represent themselves and the country well," Forbes noted.

The Sunshine Girls, who are ranked fourth in the world, will enter this year's Netball World Cup tournament on a high, this after they won a historic silver medal at last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. In fact, the Connie Francis-coached Jamaicans recorded victories over Australia and New Zealand, the first time ever in the same championships.

Forbes, who is a former goal-attacker, pointed out that the Sunshine Girls' build-up to the championships has been excellent because they Jamaicans that are now playing in the Australian League are among the top players in their respective positions.

"This is a way more rounded squad compared to previous years where the coach can take up any seven players and put on and the five players on the bench, she can make a substitution and put on all five," she said.

"In previous years, the coaches had bench but the experience and the talent wasn't like this," Forbes said. The Netball World Cup will be held from July 28 to August 6.

BY ROBERT BAILEY Staff reporter

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