Netball World Cup's gold medal achievable - Bernard
Marva Bernard, president of Netball Jamaica (NJ), is talking up the Sunshine Girls' chances of winning the Netball World Cup.
Bernard, who delivered an address at Tuesday's launch of the St James Under-12 competition, told The Gleaner the time is right for Jamaica to leave a major championship with a gold medal, adding that the necessary support for the girls is in place.
The Jamaicans have never finished higher than third in an international competition, but with a string of impressive sponsorship deals and added preparation in their build-up, the NJ boss is hoping it translates into meaningful victories and lifts them into unchartered waters at the World Cup later this year.
The Girls' next big assignment is the International Netball Federation's Netball World Cup to be held in Sydney, Australia, from August 7-16. Preparations are in high gear and with sponsorship seemingly now a non-issue, Bernard believes the Sunshine Girls are primed to shake up the established Australia-New Zealand duopoly.
strong Faith in team
"We expect the girls to come back home from the World Cup with a medal, hopefully a gold medal. It will not be easy, but we are preparing well and with all hands on deck, I strongly believe it is achievable," she said.
"The national programme is in a good state at the moment and if you look at where we were in relation to sponsorship, it is looking good now. Sponsors are coming on board and that is always a great sign. Now the girls can focus on changing the guard in world netball," she said.
Twelve primary schools are down to participate in the Under-12 competition, the first of its kind in St James, and Bernard used the occasion to motivate the young players, many of whom she noted will in the future be in line to represent Jamaica on the international stage.
"This is where it all begins; it is grassroots netball that will be the changing force in the sport in years to come and these youngsters are indeed the future of Jamaica's netball programme," she said.
St James has produced top-level netballers, with Jhanelle Fowler-Reid, easily coming to mind. The Sunshine Girl, who debut against England in 2010, is a past student of Farm Primary School.
The competition is being sponsored by fast food chain Burger King to the tune of $250,000, with the cheque handed over by Garth Summerville, the company's regional manager.