Netball World Cup medal 10 years in the making for Beckford
AFTER A 10-year-long journey at the senior level, national netball goal attacker Shanice Beckford knows the chance of getting back to another Netball World Cup is not guaranteed.
It is one of the reasons why taking bronze, the Sunshine Girls’ first medal in 16 years, was particularly significant for her.
For Beckford, the bronze medal was also proof that the Sunshine Girls belong among the main contenders for Netball World Cup’s top prize.
The Girls returned home from South Africa last week, having equalled the best-ever finish at a Netball World Cup, an achievement that had not come since 2007.
The run also included defeating former champions New Zealand twice, the latter in the third place playoff to grab that bronze. While there was disappointment from losing their semi-final to eventual champions Australia, Beckford said that the desire the team showed was one of the things she was most proud of during their week and a half together.
“It means a lot me. After the semi-finals, I was devastated but I had to pick myself up and be ready again to go the next day, because we couldn’t come back without a medal. We were urging for the gold. We fell short in the semi-finals by three goals, but I am really proud of myself and the girls and the performance that we displayed over the last one and a half weeks,” Beckford told The Sunday Gleaner.
“We can only learn from this and move forward. I know we speak about going for gold and being in the final, but there is more to it than playing the game.”
The “more” for Beckford is the knowledge that they believe they are that much closer to upsetting the netball hierarchy led by Australia and New Zealand.
“It is no longer New Zealand and Australia. There is a mix with England and Jamaica now being top contenders. So, the hope is not lost. We can regroup and go again. I still believe we can play in a World Championship final, and even lift the gold,” Beckford said.
Beckford is not taking her accomplishments for granted after this cycle, knowing that nothing is guaranteed for the next four years.
“This is my third World Championship. I don’t know if I will be able to go to another World Championship. We don’t know what will happen in four years. The fact that we were able to do this as a group and for me to be a part of something historic,” Beckford said. “I am happy I can say ‘I have a World Championship medal’, despite it not being a gold or a silver. But it means a lot. It means that I have put in the work and now I am reaping the success.”
It is success that has included the Commonwealth Games silver she helped Jamaica earn last year.
Crediting the work head coach Connie Francis has done, the inclusion of Rob Wright as part of the staff, and the invaluable increase in support over the last three years, Beckford believes Jamaica is poised for even better things.