The Wright View | Put Nevers in charge of Sunshine Girls
When the Sunshine Girls left Jamaica to play in the Fast5 World Netball Series 2016, expectations were high. Jamaica had performed satisfactorily in the inaugural competition and because of the natural speed and athleticism of the females, moving up the Fast5 ranking seems to be a given.
Not so. In the recently concluded competition in Australia, the Sunshine Girls played six matches, won two and ended the competition fifth, beating last-placed South Africa twice - by one single 'deggeh-deggeh' point in two tries (34-33).
In the other four games, Jamaica never scored 20 goals.
Cable television enabled some of us to watch the games. The first game that I watched came as a shock. I checked and rechecked the caption of the coverage because I saw some big girls playing against some small girls. Could I have selected a women against girls practice match?
In the games that I saw we were outjumped, outs hot and outcoached. Against Malawi, a team that promised much in the last competition, we were literally mauled. We ended up losing by 46-12, our lowest score of the tournament.
The boast of the Sunshine Girls of being the best ranked international team sport in Jamaica is fast becoming hollow, unless the new hierarchy of Netball Jamaica recognises the inadequacies and does something to remedy the situation.
We can no longer sit back and bask in the fact that we are the best Caribbean ranked team in netball. Our international standing is fading.
There are some good moves initiated by the women in charge of Netball Jamaica. The introduction of professionalism to the local league and the strengthening of parish organisations is good. Giving young, precocious talent in netball the opportunity to travel and play internationally is good. The interest of club teams in England and Australia in local talent is good. Praise is due.
MOVING JAMAICA TO THE TOP
However, the continuing and persistent sidelining of arguably the world's best netball coach is simply intolerable. Winston Nevers MUST be immediately appointed as a czar of local netball, with the mandate of (a) regaining the position of 'sometimes third, most times fourth' (we are now fifth), then moving Jamaica into the realm of challenging the world's top two teams, Australia and New Zealand, to the pinnacle of World netball.
The fact that club teams from around the world are recruiting local talent to their squads underlines the notion that we have the skills. We need a coach who can recognise the strength and weaknesses of opponents and make adjustments DURING A GAME in order to secure a win.
We cannot allow the talent and skills of our Sunshine Girls to be humiliated on the world stage because we keep doing the 'same old, same old', no matter what the opposition is doing during the game.
When the pre-game plan is not working, we have to change the plan. What is so hard about that?
Secondly, Netball Jamaica has to target and recruit taller girls to the team. In the recent tournament, our girls were dwarfed by our opponents and the results confirmed our deficiency.
If I can paraphrase the words of a previous Prime Minister: "We are just too blessed with athletic ability and talent to be stressed in international competition."
Madam President, netball in Jamaica is down but not out. We can begin to move up and challenge Australia and New Zealand, we need to acknowledge the greatness of Mr Nevers and invite him to take charge.