Back to work - Sunshine Girls begin preparations for 2023 Netball World Cup after COVID-19 downtime
Head coach Connie Francis says Jamaica’s senior netball team will restart training online, today. Francis is eager to resume her rebuilding programme for the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa.
Francis, who is in her second stint as head coach, returned to the post in October after the Sunshine Girls’ fifth-place finish at the last tournament in Liverpool, England, last summer. The Jamaicans missed the semi-finals for the first time since 1995.
Francis says that although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the team’s development, she believes they have enough time to regain their momentum before the 2023 finals.
“We had some success in such a short space of time and we are very grateful, because the girls have committed themselves to improving their game,” Francis told The Gleaner. “But COVID-19 has impacted netball in general in Jamaica. Not having the nucleus of our team, as most of them are overseas playing, has really impacted us.
“But as of [today], we will start off our virtual training session, so our team will start training [today], and we have everyone in. All those who were on rest are now back in and all the overseas players will log on via Zoom. I will do [sessions on] Mondays, Saturdays, and Wednesdays. Friday, as well, and I am really looking forward to that.”
Although COVID-19 has presented setbacks, Francis said that she expects her team to keep growing and improving each time they step out for a new assignment leading up to the World Cup.
“It’s all about building, and we have three more years to prepare for the world championship,” she said. “All I want is for us to improve every time we get a chance to go out and play. We want to be very competitive and we have the talent. It’s just to get that mindset and the focus to play for your country.”
Francis is hoping for a good result if the team plays England.
“Right now, we are looking to prepare for a series against England in November,” she said. “I’m not sure if it will still go on, but we have to prepare and I would like to have these games.
“The last time we played was three months ago, so we really need to prepare to really be on our ‘A’ game, or even close to it, to go up against England. But every chance we get to play, for me, it means improvement for us, as having the Girls playing competitive netball is very important.”