Wed | Jul 24, 2019

'Fitting recognition' - Sunshine Girls climb to number three in the world

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Members of Jamaica's Sunshine Girls huddle during a match against England in the Sunshine Series earlier this year at the National Indor Sports Centre.

Netball Jamaica's President Dr Paula Daley Morris says the Sunshine Girls' elevation to the No. 3 world ranking is a "fitting recognition"of their talent.

"The international federation has published the new rankings, and we're third in the world. This is a really fitting recognition of the talent of the senior Sunshine Girls," reacted Daley Morris, whose national sporting association is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Jamaica's senior netball team moved up one place in the latest rankings issued by the International Federation of Netball Association (IFNA) yesterday.

The latest rankings reflect matches played up until December 2 and now include the Sunshine Series, Canada vs Cayman Islands Test Series, Netball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers in Africa, the Americas and Asia, the autumn Quad Series (among Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand), and the recent England vs Uganda Series.

The Sunshine Girls have a 172 rating, the same as No. 4-ranked England, while New Zealand are a point ahead on 173. Australia lead the standings with a 211 rating.

A major contributor to Jamaica's rise would have been their strong performances this year and in particular a 3-0 defeat over England in the Sunshine Series, which also included Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica hammered England 55-43, 58-39, 58-43 in the Sunshine Series, after defeating their great Caribbean sporting rivals Trinidad and Tobago 61-40, 51-40 in the opening stanza of the tri-series.



The Jamaicans never stopped there, as they went on to claim the silver medal at the 2018 World Netball Series FastNet Tournament in Melbourne, Australia, where they narrow lost the final - 34-33 - against New Zealand. Jamaica's defender, Shameera Sterling, won the Most Valuable Player Award at the tournament.

It was the second consecutive World Fastnet Tournament finals loss for the Jamaicans, who went down 34-29 to England at the 2017 event. The Sunshine Girls also placed third at the 2017 Commonwealth Games and third at the World Fastnet Tournament in 2016.

"They've been doing well over the last three years, and this year, in particular, they've been outstanding," Daley Morris observed.

"We're elated, and it goes to show what a little support can do, what a little help can do," she added.

The Sunshine Girls, who won bronze at the 2003 and 2007 World Netball Championships, have been stuck at the No. 4 spot since 2008, relegated back then on the basis of the ranking system that measures the performance of active teams over a series of matches and gives a points rating to each country. That system had been implemented after the 2007 World Netball Championships, now called the Netball World Cup.

The Sunshine Girls are gearing up for the 2019 Netball World Cup and Daley Morris said they are seeking financial backing to strengthen their preparations.

"These girls need the support. We're going into a World Champs and we can't do it alone. We don't have the funding to get there, and I'm asking Jamaica, you see the potential, it's over to you. Help us to get there and let's see what happens. We are winners," she said.