Sunshine Girls Beckford, Dixon sign historic deals with Team Northumbria
Sunshine Girls Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon have secured historic deals to play for Team Northumbria (TN) in the Netball Super League (NSL) in the United Kingdom.
The Netball Super league is the elite netball competition in England and Wales.
The league, which runs from January to May, features seven teams from England and one from Wales comprising players from around the world including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, England, Grenada, Uganda, South Africa, Wales, Namibia and Scotland.
Beckford, a student of the University of Technology and Dixon, who attends the Mico University College, will be the first Jamaicans to play in the league.
Matches in the league are regularly shown on TV through the sports broadcaster Sky Sports, under a major television deal signed in 2006.
“It's overwhelming to be a part of the Northumbria team and get the chance to compete in the SL,” said Dixon, who plays Wing Attack. “All I can say is that hard work does pay off and whatever anyone wants to be in life or achieve in life it can be done with hard work and determination.
“It was, and still is, a wow-moment for me knowing I've done so well in my career, that Northumbria is my next destination. I am so excited to be on my way to join the other players and I can say confidently that am ready to go beyond my best.”
Beckford said she was humbled by her selection.
“It's an honour to be joining TN and to be playing in the NSL. I’m so excited.
“I just can’t wait to jump on a plane and join the guys in Newcastle,” she said.
The signing of the two women by Northumbria indicates that there is global recognition of Jamaican talent.
"Having impressed during their high school and Under-21 careers, through to the Netball World Cup in Sydney, the move to TN was a natural step in the development of their careers,” said Netball Jamaica president, Marva Bernard.
“Their association with TN will see them exposed to high level netball on a weekly basis and this will undoubtedly add immense value to them both as individual players and to the Netball Jamaica senior programme. Shanice and Nicole are expected to blaze a trail for others to follow in years to come and we’d like to wish them all the best and every success ahead of the new NSL season.”
The Sunshine Girls are ranked fourth in the world and several of them attracted interest from scouts from the NSL and the ANZ league during their campaign at the Netball World Cup in Australia this past August.
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken now play in the ANZ widely considered the best netball league in the world.