Sunshine Girls, Barbados clash in netball series
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will face Barbados in the opening match of a three-match friendly series at the G.C. Foster College in St Catherine, starting at 7 p.m.
The second match will be played on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the same venue at 5 p.m. on both days. The teams are using the series as part of their preparations for next month's Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3.
The Netball Jamaica selectors will also be using the series to cut the current squad of 17 players to 12. Top shooter Jhaniele Fowler is back home following their participation in the ANZ Championships in Australia and New Zealand, but the team will be without shooter Romelda Aiken for the series, as she is still playing in the ANZ Championships.
Jill McIntosh, technical director of the Sunshine Girls, said the players must prove themselves in the series in order to be selected for the Commonwealth Games.
"This series will give all 17 players in the national squad a chance to show the selectors what they can do, and as selectors, we are looking for combinations of the players," said McIntosh.
"It will be a good series of friendly matches," she said. "We never underestimate any opponent because, with the proper conditions, it will be a proper match and so the Sunshine Girls will have to step up and play their best," McIntosh said.
The current squad also includes the likes of veteran players Kasey Evering, Paula Thompson, Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, and Sashe-Gaye Henry.
The other members of the squad are: Thristina Harwood, Shantal Slator, Deneen Taylor, Sashe-Gaye Henry, Patricia McCalla, Khadijah Williams, Stacian Facey, Malysha Kelly, Kadene Marshall, Shamera Sterling, Vangelee Williams, Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon.
The Barbados contingent arrived in the island yesterday and their head coach Anna Shepherd said she is expecting a good performance from her team.
"We are definitely expecting a tough series because the games are played on the court and not in the boardroom, and we come here to play our best netball," said Shepherd following her team's arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.
"We are not scared, but I guess the excitement is there, and so I am confident that we can give a good showing, because we always play well against Jamaica," she added.