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COVID concerns for Sunshine Girls’ UK tour

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2020 | 12:14 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday 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 in Liverpool, England, on July 15, 2019.
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 in Liverpool, England, on July 15, 2019.
Robinson
Robinson
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As the Sunshine Girls prepare to travel to England in a four-Test series next month, Netball Jamaica President Tricia Robinson admitted that there are concerns given the discovery of a new coronavirus strain in that country and the Jamaican Government’s recent ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom (UK).

The Jamaican Government’s 14-day ban is set to expire on January 4, two days before the Sunshine Girls’ scheduled departure to England for their highly anticipated four-Test series against the hosts. The matches are scheduled to be played on January 22, 24, 26, and 28 at the Copper Box Arena in London.

The step comes after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which is said to be as much as 70 per cent more transmissible than previously discovered versions. This has led to the British Government imposing a lockdown on London and most of England’s south-east region, which takes effect today.

Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner that her association has been in constant dialogue with the Ministry of Health & Wellness as well as the netball authorities in England, as they continue their preparations for the series.

“We are guided by the directives of our Government. We are preparing as per usual, nothing has changed, but we are monitoring the situation over there,” Robinson said.

“These are challenging times for the sport, it is a challenging time for our economy and it is testing times overall, but we just have to work through the challenges,” Robinson added.

The local netball boss, however, admitted that despite her confidence in safety measures being put in place, which include games being played in a ‘bubble’ style environment, there was some amount of anxiety within the Sunshine Girls camp.

“They are supposed to [be] playing in a bubble, but my only discomfort is [the travelling] between the two airports and what happens with them leaving Jamaica and them arriving in England, that is my only fear,” said Robinson.

SERIES PROTOCOLS

She further stated that the organisers of the series have also intensified the protocols for the series so as to ensure that all the players, coaches and management staff will be in a safe environment for the Tests.

“The protocols will be really solid because England went to New Zealand for a series and based on the experience there, they have added additional safety protocols for this series,” Robinson said.

“The players will be on their own floor, the management and people surrounding the series will be on another floor and so are aware of those protocols and we are satisfied with the protocols,” she added. “I am confident of all preparations going into the tour and so I know that the girls will do well in the series.”

The Sunshine Girls are ranked fourth in the world, one place below England, who they could leapfrog in the rankings with a 3-1 or 4-0 win. This Test will be the Sunshine Girls’ first action since last January, when they featured in a quad series against England, New Zealand and South Africa.

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com