Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
President of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA), Marva Bernard, said her administration will be using this year's Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland, New Zealand, as a major part of their build-up to the 2015 World Championships to be held in Sydney, Australia.
The series will be held in New Zealand November 9-11, with the top six ranked teams qualifying automatically. The Sunshine Girls are scheduled to leave tomorrow and return home on November 13.
"When we go to these tournaments, especially this particular one, we will come away with a four-year plan for the international exchanges with England, Australia and New Zealand," said Bernard.
"We are looking forward to seeing what the possibilities are to give these girls the kind of international match practice that they will need to make a showing at the World Championships in Sydney in 2015," Bernard said.
The Sunshine Girls, who are ranked third in the world, finished fourth in the last World Championships in Singapore.
Plan to restructure
A number of senior players have since retired from the sport and the JNA has embarked on a plan to restructure their operations, as they seek to build for the future.
The Oberon Pitterson-Nattie-coached Sunshine Girls finished fourth in the last Fast5 tournament, which was held in London, England, in 2011. The JNA boss added that she is confident the Sunshine Girls will give a good account of themselves in the championships.
"We expect the girls to give of their best," she said. "We have some girls who have never been to a Fast5 before, but we are going to support them."
Patricia McCalla, Shameera Sterling and Shantal Slater are the young players who have been selected to represent Jamaica in the championships.
Bernard stated that she is very optimistic they will do well.
"Their preparation has been going reasonably well," she said. "It is good to know that Patricia (McCalla) has asked to step into Romelda Aiken's shoe and she will give of her best."
Aiken has been ruled out of the tournament because of a wrist injury.