Connie Francis, head coach of Jamaica's senior netball team, believes that while the Sunshine Girls are a little behind in training, they will be fully prepared for the Netball World Cup.
The Vitality Netball World Cup 2023, the 16th staging of the sport's premier international competition, is to be held from July 28 to August 6 at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.
Francis stated that the Sunshine Girls' preparations have been hampered by the completion of the Elite League and the selection of squads for both the World Cup and the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.
"We have settled down and are working out hard, trying to manage injuries and having some of the players on the team that is going into El Salvador for the CAC Games. So we have some of the girls doubling up on both squads, but with everything, they are doing their best, as it is never easy," Francis told the Jamaica Observer.
"We are trying our best not to be behind as right now we are a little bit behind in preparation, and so we are playing catch-up because of the Elite League, and then we have the El Salvador team to select, and then the senior team is looking at going into the World Cup. You know, that kind of thing has set us back a little bit, but it's daunting at times based on the fact that you have to think about the health of all players because it is never easy.
"We have had some players with a few minor injuries, and it is how we managed them, because going into the World Cup, it will be a very, very tough series. We have nine games in 10 days, and it is up to all 12 players in the final cut to do their best," Francis further explained.
Francis stated that with 49 days until Netball World, it is critical for the players to be physically and mentally prepared for the competition, and she believes that the Sunshine Girls will be fine.
"We are taking 15 players, but, you know, from the 15, we will have a 12. So it is important that the 12 be mentally and physically ready to take on the task," Francis said.
"The girls are up for it, especially the ones that are in Australia, as they are doing so well. All the players in Australia have stepped up their games, and you can see the hunger in their competitiveness over there. I know that they will bring it when we come together as a unit to represent Jamaica," said Francis, who is a former player of the game.
Francis, who led the Sunshine Girls to bronze at the 2007 Netball World Cup, said the players will attend a training camp before the event to fine-tune their preparation.
"We have like six weeks to go before we leave for the world, and we are going to ensure that we put 110 per cent in this. The good thing is having an assistant, so it's not you alone, and having an assistant at a training session is good as that kind of thing eases the pressure.
"All teams are allowed three reserved players in case of injuries because most teams will have a training camp in South Africa, and that's what we intended on doing. Hopefully, all the girls can stay healthy, and we want to ensure that if anything should happen, we have a good replacement, so we have a shooter, a defender, and a midcourt player in case anything should happen," Francis said.
This will be the first time the World Cup will be held in Africa. This will also mark the tournament's 60th anniversary since it was founded in 1963.
Shooters — Romelda Aiken-George; Shanice Beckford; Janiele Fowler; Shimona Nelson; and Rebekah Robinson.
Centre Court — Nicole Dixon-Rochester; Crystal Plummer; Abigale Sutherland; Adean Thomas; and Khadijah Williams.
Defenders — Kadie-Ann Dehaney; Kimone Shaw; Shamera Sterling; Jodi-Ann Ward; and Latanya Wislon.