Sat | Jun 25, 2022

Strong Sunshine Girlz squad still not complete – Nevers

Published:Wednesday | June 22, 2022 | 12:14 AMOrane Buchanan/Staff Reporter
Gezelle Allison (front).
Gezelle Allison (front).
Winston Nevers.
Winston Nevers.

FORMER ASSISTANT national coach Winston Nevers believes the Sunshine Girlz squad, while strong, is missing an integral piece.

After finishing third at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the World-number-four-ranked Sunshine Girls will be looking to not just improve on their placing from their last outing, but to dethrone defending champions England and win a gold medal at the tournament for the first time.

The strong 12-member squad includes world’s number one rated goal shooter Jhaneile Fowler along with Latanya Wilson, Shanice Beckford, Kadian Duhaney, Jodi-Ann Ward, Nicole Dixon-Rochester, Shamera Sterling, Rebekah Robinson, Dean Thomas, Khadija Williams, Shadian Hemmings and the returning Shimona Nelson.

Among the three reserves is 26-year-old Wasps goal shooter Gezelle Allison, who is in her second season in the English Vitality Super league.

Allison had a good showing in the Vitality Super League, converting at 81 per cent (229 goals from 282 shots) in 20 appearances, to better her 76 per cent shooting from her debut season.

Nevers, while speaking with Gleaner Sports, said Allison’s inclusion should have come four years ago when he was still with the team, but that didn’t materialise.

According to Nevers, since the Commonwealth Games are being hosted in England, it should have been a no-brainer to have included Allison in the main squad.

“She is the only overseas player who didn’t get picked in this squad. Gezelle is playing in England and she must have gotten used to the English conditions by now. The passes into the opponent’s goal-third would move quicker if you have somebody that is tall that you can pass to, instead we (Sunshine Girls) have too many passes in the mid-court because we are too short and we need to make some change,” he said.

Nevers, who didn’t want to be too critical of the squad, said the team is world class, but that Allison’s inclusion would improve it.

“Shanice Beckford is among the top three goal attacks in the world, she’s very good. We have the best goal shooter in the world, which is Jhanielle Fowler. If you go back to our defensive area, we have four of the best defenders in the world but we can’t say the same about our mid-court, and so that is my reason why I would like for us to build up the mid-court to a world-class one.”

“We (Sunshine Girls) have a wonderful goal shooter and goal attack and we wouldn’t want to replace them now, just add to them and make the team strong enough,” he added.

The Sunshine Girls are drawn in group A alongside rivals Australia, Scotland, South Africa and Barbados, while Group B comprises of defending champions England, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Northern Ireland and the African pair of Malawi and Uganda.

Netball at the Commonwealth Games will begin on July 29 and end on August 7.