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McIntosh's focus on fitness: physical, mental

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer

Newly-appointed technical director of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA), Jill McIntosh, will be focusing on improving the Sunshine Girls' fitness and mental toughness ahead of this year's World Netball Championships (WNC), which will be held in Singapore.

A WNC-winning coach with the Australia national team, McIntosh arrived in the island on Monday night, for a 15-week training spell with the national senior netballers ahead of this summer's championships.

"I think their overall general fitness will be one of the areas that we will be working very hard at because I do think that they really have to take another step up," said McIntosh. "We want them to be four-quarter match-fit, not two or three quarters, but four quarters, " she stressed.

"To do well at the World Championships you need to be absolutely supremely fit and that is one big area that we will seriously be looking at.

"We will also be looking at their mental skills because we want them to be tough in their minds," McIntosh added.

McIntosh, who will be paid an honorarium of $1.4 million over the course of her stay, will also be expected to aid the development of the local coaches, as well as offer her expertise at special meetings and seminars as part of the JNA's drive to improve core aspects of the sport at the grassroots level.

The full cost associated with her upcoming spell with the team is around $2.1 million, including airfare, meals and accommodation.

The Sunshine Girls, who are ranked fourth in the world, played to an exciting 1-1 draw against world champions, Australia, in January and McIntosh believes that the Jamaicans are not far off the top three teams in the world.

'England series going to be very close'

"I think that you (Sunshine Girls) are not far off from the top three teams in the world because, first you played Australia and they beat you, the next match was a draw and then you beat them and I suspect the England series is going to be very close," McIntosh said.

She continued: "England and New Zealand just played recently and that was close and so I think that anyone of the top four teams can win on any day. It just comes down to their mental status on the day and how mentally these players shape up on the day," McIntosh reasoned.

The Jamaicans are schedule to play a two-Test series against Caribbean neighbours Trinidad and Tobago from March 25-27, prior to a three-Test series against England in April.

"I think that this would be fabulous because this would be a very good first hit out, although I would expect Jamaica to beat Trinidad," she said.

"The big test would be at the end of April when England comes and that would be a very good test to see how the Sunshine Girls are going in their preparations for the World Champs," McIntosh noted.