Sunshine Girls turn to men for WCup warm-up
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
With their scheduled series against Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago now in doubt, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls have turned to a group of male netballers for intense competition ahead of this year's Netball World Cup.
Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard says both countries had expressed their willingness to play Jamaica in two-match series, but are finding it very difficult to make the trip because of financial difficulties.
"In a year when they have the World Cup, they are finding it very difficult to come up with the funds," Bernard said.
"It will be good to have them here because it will give our Sunshine Girls some much needed match practise going into the World Cup," Bernard said.
Sunshine Girls head coach Minneth Reynolds says they have alternative measures in place in the event they are unable to secure a warm-up series against Caribbean teams Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados in the coming weeks.
She said a number of practise matches have been planned against a group of male netball players in the coming months.
"They (males) are very good opponents because they really give us the sort of competition that we need going into a World Championships," said Reynolds.
"They also provide the sort of aggressive competition that we need to prepare us for the World Championships, and so they are our best option right now," she said.
"They play aggressive netball and they push our girls to the limit."
Continuing Reynolds said: "Even though it is a non-contact sport, they always come hard at us, and so we just have to prepare ourselves for their aggressive style of netball.
She added that the Sunshine Girls have increased their workload in for the World Cup, as they have been training four times per week.
"It (preparations) has been going quite well," Reynolds said.
"This month has been dedicated to fitness and gym work because we have been really trying to strengthen our girls in terms of our weight programme, endurance, and our speed.
"It is not only important to get our skill levels up, but also for us to be physically strong in order to match-up against any team in the World Cup," she noted.
The Sunshine Girls, who are ranked fourth in the world, defeated arch-rivals England 2-1 in their last competitive series on home soil in January.