Sunshine Girls step up preparation ahead of Netball World Cup

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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With the start of the much-anticipated Vitality Netball World Cup drawing closer, Head Coach Marvette Anderson and her Sunshine Girls continue to fine-tune as they aim to make waves at the July 12-21 tournament in Liverpool, England.

Anderson and her world number three-ranked team has been in camp for the past few days in intense preparation mode with hopes of landing an historic gold medal on this, the nation's 15th World Cup appearance.

Jamaica's Sunshine Girls in their last five appearances finished fourth in 1999, 2011, and 2015 with consecutive third-place finishes in 2003 and 2007.

By all indications, this year represents the country's best opportunity to snap up one of the top two podium finishes with a 12-member squad made up of experienced campaigners, six of whom ply their trade overseas.

The overseas-based group is led by goal-shooting stalwarts Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken, accompanied by electric defender Shamera Sterling, Stacian Facey, Jodi-Ann Ward, and Kadian Dehaney.

Another overseas-based sharpshooter Shimona Nelson was selected to the squad, but was later ruled out with an injury and will be replaced by goal attack Rebekah Robinson.

Robinson, along with the more experienced goal attack Shanice Beckford, centre court players Nicole Dixon, Adean Thomas, wing attack Khadijah Williams, and defender Vangelee Williams are the local-based members of the squad.

Still, Anderson is cautious in her approach as she pointed out that the work continues to sharpen , particularly in the defensive quarters to ensure that they will be a force to contend with in the hunt for netball's ultimate prize.

“They are not looking too bad at the moment, we were looking at some specifics in terms of what happens when you make changes how they flow, and we recognised a few things that we are going to go back and work on.

“We are also going to be working on our defensive posture, especially through transitioning from the attack into the defensive area,” Anderson told the Jamaica Observer shortly after a practice game against the male team at the National Arena on Sunday.

The Jamaicans have been drawn in Group C where they will first meet Fiji before facing Caribbean neighbours Trinidad and Tobago with their final clash being against South Africa.

Anderson is eagerly anticipating the challenge from the group as well as the new format developed by the International Netball Federation (INF), which will see teams compete in three stages at the tournament.

Preliminaries Stage One will run from July 12-14, with Preliminaries Stage Two from July 15-18 and the play offs and placings matches from July 19-21.

Meanwhile, Preliminaries Stage Two matches will be dependent on Preliminaries Stage One results.

“We consider it (Group C) of the four groups, the toughest, but we are up for the challenge, we are going there to compete like the other teams and so we are just going there to perform to the best of our ability,” Anderson, who will be assisted by Winston Nevers, noted.

“I also think it (the new format) is taxing given the fact that some players are actually coming out of a very rigorous competition in the Australian league. But the show must go on, so we are up and ready and putting in the work; we know what is at hand, and we have been there before and so it is just about making the adjustments,” she added.

And even with 29-year-old Fowler and Aiken among those nursing niggling injuries, Anderson is not too concerned in that regard.

“As with any sport you are going to have niggles and injuries, but I am not overly concerned about anything at the moment.

“The physiotherapist will be at work, so it is just about managing the time on court with the players. So if you were noticing tonight we were making changes in and out, so it is about management of the players going through the tournament,” Anderson ended.

The players along with the management team are set to depart on Friday for a camp in Manchester, England, scheduled to end on July 7.

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