Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Sunshine Girls rev up preparation

Published:Sunday | June 13, 2021 | 12:15 AM

Sunshine Girls Adean Thomas (left) and Nichole Dixon go through their  paces during a training session at the Leila Robinson Courts at the National Stadium on June 5, 2019.
Sunshine Girls Adean Thomas (left) and Nichole Dixon go through their paces during a training session at the Leila Robinson Courts at the National Stadium on June 5, 2019.

Sunshine Girls Head Coach Connie Francis says that the team is eager to return to competitive action, while identifying their upcoming tri-nation series against South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago as a massive test, as preparations continue for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

The Sunshine Girls, who recently returned to on-court training for the first time in more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are scheduled to host South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in September, in what will be their first competitive series at home in almost three years.

Francis told The Sunday Gleaner that, despite the long lay-off, the Sunshine Girls have returned to contact training in excellent condition and are now just working on a few weak areas and refocusing themselves for their upcoming assignments.

“The girls here are in training and they are doing their fitness and conditioning. We are working on our skills, we are doing our tactical plays, the strength is there and so the girls are working out really hard,” said Francis.

“We have some players who are returning to the squad and some came in late, but it is a challenge, but they are still at a work-in-progress phase. The ones who we had before, they are in immaculate shape and I am just eager to see them on the court playing,” she added.

“They are doing the best that they can despite not being able to play the game that we are supposed to play, but the good thing is that we have quite a number of players playing overseas in competition and doing extremely well. And so it is just really to get them and create a balance when everybody gets together,” Francis said.

There are several Jamaican players who are currently plying their trade in the Suncorp Netball Super League in Australia and the Vitality Super League in England. They include captain and ace goal shooters Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken, and top defender Shamera Sterling.

CRUCIAL PART OF PREPARATIONS

The veteran coach underscored that they will be taking the series very seriously because it is going to form a crucial part of the preparation of the squad for next year’s Commonwealth Games, as well as the Netball World Cup tournament in 2023.

The Sunshine Girls are ranked fourth in the world, one place above South Africa, while Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 10th in the world.

“We respect all of our opponents and certainly we want to do extremely well against them, and therefore we will be taking this series very seriously in September,” said Francis.

“At the World Cup, we were beaten by South Africa and we went into England in the tri-nation series and we beat them. And so we want to remain consistent now when we are playing against them by winning,” she said.

Trinidad are still in the work-in-progress stage and I think they are in the same position as us because they are not able to play and I think they have a few of their players playing overseas, which is good for them. I am eager to see the matchup. We have not faced Trinidad since I have been back coaching, and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do against them,” Francis stated.

– R.B.