Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Francis has faith in Sunshine Girls

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:21 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer

National senior netball coach Connie Francis said the Sunshine Girls are mentally and physically prepared to deal with any difficulties and challenges that they might encounter when they compete in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in England from January 19-26.

The four-nation tournament, which will be the first outing for the Sunshine Girls following their disappointing fifth-place finish at the Netball World Cup (NWC) last July, also includes the hosts, world champions New Zealand and South Africa. The Sunshine Girls, who are scheduled to leave the island tomorrow, will face South Africa in their opening match on Sunday before opposing New Zealand on the 22nd. The Jamaicans will close out the group stages against hosts England on the 25th of January.

Francis told The Gleaner that she is very impressed with the discipline and commitment shown by the girls in training over the past few months, noting her confidence that they will do well in the series.

“They are more than ready mentally, especially the senior players, they want to go and correct the mistakes that happen last year because they know that they are more than capable of playing better,” said Francis.

All about improvement

“For me it’s about improvement, and going forward, we want to see the ladies go out there and improve in their game and if they improve in their game, then our team will possibly move up in the rankings and so that is the aim,” added Francis.

The Sunshine Girls 12-member squad includes seven players who represented the country at last year’s NWC. They are former captain Jhaniele Fowler, Shanice Beckford, Jodi-Ann Ward, Nicole Dixon, Khadijah Williams, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Shamera Sterling.

The young players in the squad are Shannika Johnson, Shadian Hemmings, Shimona Nelson, Gezelle Allison and Latanya Wilson, who have only 12 appearances between them.

“This is the first time for the youngsters but they are prepared for it. They will have jitters, butterfly in their stomachs, but they are surrounded by some talented players to help them through it,” said Francis.