Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
The new season of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA)/Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Sunshine Open League begins today with an opening ceremony and dress parade at the National Arena. This will be followed by a number of league matches at the Leila Robinson Courts starting at 1 p.m.
Jamalco are the defending champions of the 'A' league, while Ravens are last season's 'B' league winners. There will be a one-day rally at the end of the season on February 9. Seventy-six teams are down to compete in the competition, down from 82 teams the previous year.
The League should have started in the second week of November but it was pushed back because of contract negotiations between the JNA and the sponsors.
However, despite this, Bernard has expressed confidence that the Sunshine Open League which is being sponsored by JNBS for the 21st consecutive year will live up to expectations.
"We are having a late start but that will not prevent us from completing all games at the scheduled time," said Bernard. "This means that we will have additional playing days so that we can complete the fixtures," she said.
Bernard added: "Sunday has been added as a playing day in addition to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so we will have an intense six weeks of netball and spectators can expect high-energy competition."
DELAY WON'T AFFECT EXCITEMENT
Meanwhile, Andrew Rose, chairperson of the league committee, said the long delay will not affect the performance of the teams in this year's competition.
"I don't think the delay will affect the intensity and excitement of the league," said Rose. "The clubs are very enthusiastic and the players missed playing netball, and so they are eager for the league to start," he said.
He added that the sponsors will be providing lots of prizes and surprises for the spectators throughout the season.
Christopher Smart and Winston Nevers were the 2012 recipients of scholarships to attend the University of the Technology's Level One coaching course and these scholarships will again be on offer for the winning coaches. In addition there will be prize money of over $150,000 up for grabs.