Bernard says series triumph sets tempo for WNC
Dania Bogle, Senior Gleaner Writer
"AWESOME!" That is how Netball Jamaica president, Marva Bernard, described Jamaica's pulsating 2-1 Supreme Ventures Sunshine Series victory over England at the National Indoor Sports Centre (NISC) on Tuesday night.
Among a jam-packed crowd, blazing mini vuvuzuelas, banging thundersticks and cheers of "defence, defence", it was almost impossible to hear oneself think, let alone speak, as the Sunshine Girls slowly de-petaled the English Roses, winning the final game 57-47.
A sea of yellow, dotted with red and white, witnessed Jamaica's first Test series win over their arch-rivals at home since 2011. The tempo was high throughout the first three quarters and reached fever pitch in the final quarter, as the Sunshine Girls seized the lead and never looked back.
"I had no doubt that we were going to win the match because I know these ladies, and I know the fire in their belly to not have England beat us, at home or abroad," Bernard told The Gleaner, adding that despite the close scores in the first three quarters, at least one player predicted the gap at the end.
"It's going to be a runaway train now (she said)," according to Bernard. "They (Girls) are fearless."
The Jamaicans won the first game on Saturday, but lost the second by seven points on Sunday and came out determined to finish off what they had started.
"I'm very close to these players, and they want to do us proud. They told that they saw what went wrong," Bernard said, adding that they were able to seal victory without the services of top defenders Kasey Evering, Malysha Kelly and Paula Thompson.
The Sunshine Girls are gearing up for the 2015 Netball World Series in the Australia campaign titled Gold Rush Down Under, and Bernard said they now hope to have at least one more international series before the WNC.
"We know we can give a good account of ourselves against England. Now we want to give a good account of ourselves against the number one and number two in the world."
Bernard believes that the mentoring taking place between more experienced and younger players is providing the necessary boost to move the team forward.
"One of the things that is warming the hearts is the mentoring that is taking place among the team," she said, adding that the journey to Sydney was an important part of why the team knew they could not lose the series against England.
"Losing was not an option ... they knew it would affect the fundraising campaign, so I wasn't really worried."
Bernard also pointed to the work of head coach Minneth Reynolds and physical trainer Roy Thomas as the driving force behind the new-found confidence of the team.
"It's mutual respect that has been the benefit of a new day dawning, and it's the best players to get the best out of them."
The team also will continue to work with Australian coach, Jill McIntosh, as they prepare for the WNC
"Don't count out Jill McIntosh in all of this. She has not left their side. She is not here, but she has been talking with the girls. Minneth (Reynolds) has done an awesome job.
"These girls plan to play in the final at the World's Champs. They have shown that they can do it, they just need the support of everybody."