Sport

'I think it's our time!'

Former Sunshine Girl Pitterson-Nattie thinks team well-positioned to lift first title

Monday, July 15, 2019

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LIVERPOOL, England — The 2019 Netball World Cup might be Jamaica's best gold medal chance for many moons, says former player Oberon Pitterson-Nattie.

“If no other time, it has to be now. I think it's our time,” she said during an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer in Liverpool late on Saturday.

“Over the years we've always not got it right, so this is the time we have to get it right. It's been a while that Jamaica have had a team with 12 quality players like they have now. I think with this group they have quality throughout.”

Pitterson-Nattie, who had a distinguished playing career between 1988 and 2006, said the current Sunshine Girls' multiplicity of options across the court will help the Marvette Anderson-led coaching staff to maintain fresher legs throughout tournament.

“When I played we would have [a starting] seven and you might have two [substitutes] who could come in and lift that game. We didn't have much depth, but this team has a beautiful rotation in terms of their defensive end and their attacking end.

“There are players that you can bring them in and it lifts the game. Watching that game [against Fiji on Friday] they brought in players and had brilliant rotations and they paid off. We didn't have that when I played so when we got to the play-off round it was always the same people working hard in the [preliminary] rounds,” she noted.

The Jamaicans won bronze in 2003 and 2007, but have never been to the gold medal match at the World Cup. They claimed fourth spot in 2011 and in 2015.

Pitterson-Nattie, who had multiple stints as Jamaica coach from 2006 to 2012, was captain of the side that placed third in 2003.

“We now have the two best shooters in the world in Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken. When we were playing we didn't really have the best in the world. We were there, and we had players who measured up to the top players but these girls here — we have the two top shooters, we have the best defender in Shamera Sterling and in mid court you have [Shanice] Beckford, you have Khadijah Williams, you have Vangelee [Williams], the vice captain,” Pitterson-Nattie.

The Sunshine Girls, after recently elevating a place to number two in the world behind Australia, started the global netball showpiece with wins over Fiji and Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago. Yesterday, they lost a close game to South Africa but can still hold onto gold medal ambitions.

To lift the 2019 World Cup trophy they will likely have to get past the defending three-time holders Australia, hosts England, former champions New Zealand and battling South Africans. England are ranked third, while New Zealand and South Africa are fourth and fifth, respectively.

The former Sunshine Girls coach noted that the current side possesses a number of seasoned players armed with the capacity to withstand the mental and physical rigours of a title-winning campaign.

“They have a wealth of experience, and not just experience playing with the national team, but with other teams, with other clubs outside of Jamaica. So that should bring a level of professionalism to how they approach the game, [and] how they approach the training. It makes it easier for the others who have never played outside of Jamaica to fit in and get with what's happening,” Pitterson-Nattie said during the sit-down with the Observer.

– Sanjay Myers


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