Mon | Jan 18, 2021

‘COVID-safe catalyst’ - INF gives blessings to upcoming Test series between Sunshine Girls, England

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2020 | 12:14 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Sunshine Girls captain Jhaniele Fowler (right) outstretches England Roses goal keeper Geva Mentor to claim the ball, before scoring a goal during their Group G Vitality Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, last July.
Sunshine Girls captain Jhaniele Fowler (right) outstretches England Roses goal keeper Geva Mentor to claim the ball, before scoring a goal during their Group G Vitality Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, last July.

International Netball Federation (INF) President Liz Nicholl says the Test series between Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls and hosts England will form the catalyst for the safe return of international netball in 2021.

The INF has been forced to postpone a number of it tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused the postponement and cancellation of various competitions across various sporting disciplines this year.

The series between the Sunshine Girls, who are ranked fourth in the world, and England, ranked third, was set for early next month. However, it was postponed until January of next year because of the lockdown in Britain due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Nicholl told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview that the growth and development of netball has suffered this year because of the pandemic, and she is happy that this series will take place in January.

“We are delighted to see our members England Netball and Netball Jamaica getting back on court at the beginning of 2021,” she said.

“This year has been a tough year for every sport, and the INF is really pleased to see the return of international netball matches around the world. We have no doubt that the players, fans, stakeholders, and netball family are excited about this opportunity.

“Our role as governing body for the sport is to enable and encourage a safe return to play, and support the delivery of thrilling world-class events.

“This event is a great opportunity to demonstrate COVID-safe procedures in an international setting, as well as the fantastic work of our members, athletes, officials, broadcasters, and netball family. We look forward to the event and more international netball in 2021.”

GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR GAMES

Nicholl said that the INF was pleased to witness the recent series between England and New Zealand, as it provided a good opportunity for the players to get some competitive netball under their belt.

She is confident that both the Sunshine Girls and England players will adhere to the rules and guidelines that have been set out by the UK government for the series.

“We were delighted to see the England Roses take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns in Auckland last month,” she said.

“This recent Test series enabled players to get back into action, and fans to enjoy international netball once more through the live-streaming of the games.

“Post-event reports have demonstrated how our members adhered to strict COVID-19 protocols and we have no doubt that England and Jamaica will also follow all medical guidance, government advice, and procedures to ensure the safety of all those involved with the event.”

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com