The 12-year wait - Sunshine Girls look to end World Cup medal drought
While admitting that she is feeling a bit nervous, Marvette Anderson, head coach of Jamaica’s senior netball team, will be hoping to begin the quest to break the Sunshine Girls’ 12-year medal drought at the Netball World Cup tournament with a win against Fiji today. Match is time 11 a.m. (Jamaica time).
The Sunshine Girls, who last won a World Cup medal – bronze in 2007 – failed to return to the podium at the last two championships in 2011 and 2015. However, Anderson said the girls are confident and are looking forward to getting their campaign started.
“It is my first stint as a head coach in a World Championships, but the nerves, it is nothing that I won’t get over,” said Anderson. “I think the ladies are ready and I think that we are coming over there to put [on the court] what we have been doing since we went to Manchester for the training camp, and so let’s see what happens on the court,” she said.
The Sunshine Girls will enter today’s championships high on confidence, having won a bronze medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games, which was held in Gold Coast, Australia.
In fact, the Sunshine Girls narrowly missed out on a spot in the final after suffering a close 56-55 defeat to rivals England in the semi-final of the competition.
The Sunshine Girls, who recently moved up one spot to second place in the world rankings, have retained eight players from their team that finished fourth at the 2015 tournament.
They include captain Jhaneile Fowler, vice-captain Vangelee Williams, along with Romelda Aiken, Shanice Beckford, Stacian Facey, Khadijah Williams, Nicole Dixon and Kadie-Ann Dehaney.
The other members of the Sunshine Girls team, who will be making their debuts at the tournament are Adean Thomas, Jodi-Ann Ward, Rebeckah Robinson and Shamera Sterling.
Anderson pointed out that despite the strength and depth of the Sunshine Girls squad, there is no added weight on the players’ shoulders to win a medal at the championships, despite this being their obvious target.
“There is no pressure, but it is good that we are No. 2-ranked in the world,” she said. “The ladies are not taking that on and they are not too worried about that. We are taking it one game at a time because we know what we came here for, and that is to be on the podium and that has not changed.”
“Twelve years is a long time, but we are not focusing on that because we know what we need to be on the podium and so we are going to do whatever it takes [to]get us there,” she said.
“The players are feeling good, they know and they are aware of what is at stake. We have a bunch of ladies who eat, sleep and live netball. They live it with passion and they play it with pride,” Anderson said.
NO LETTING UP
She underlines that despite Fiji being ranked at 17th in the world, they will not be taking them for granted today.
“We will not be taking any team lightly because it is competition and everybody wants to win regardless of what ranking they have, so every game for us is [a] step towards the podium,” Anderson said.
Vicki Wilson, coach of Fiji, while admitting that it is going to be very difficult to beat the Jamaicans, expects her team to give a good account of themselves.
“It is going to be very tough because they are ranked two in the world, and so it is going to be an enormous challenge for us,” said Wilson. “They are very strong, and so a surprise would be lovely, but the great thing about sport is that it is unpredictable, but they have strength and size all over the court and so it is going to be tough for us to win.”
The day’s other games will see New Zealand tackling Malawi, Barbados opposing Singapore, defending champions Australia going up against Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe challenging Sri Lanka, South Africa entertaining Trinidad and Tobago, and hosts England battling Uganda.