Sat | Dec 3, 2022

Francis mulls walking away

Sunshine Girls coach navigates mental strain of top post

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2022 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Sunshine Girls fans show their support during the netball Pool A match against Australia on day seven of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena last week.
Sunshine Girls fans show their support during the netball Pool A match against Australia on day seven of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena last week.
Jamaica’s coach Connie Francis speaks to reporters after her Sunshine Girls 103-24 win over the Barbados Gems in Pool A action at the Commonwealth Games inside the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.
Jamaica’s coach Connie Francis speaks to reporters after her Sunshine Girls 103-24 win over the Barbados Gems in Pool A action at the Commonwealth Games inside the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.
Above: Jamaica’s captain and goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler (right) tussles for the 
ball with Australia’s goal defence Jo Weston 
during the Commonwealth Games netball final at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.
Above: Jamaica’s captain and goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler (right) tussles for the ball with Australia’s goal defence Jo Weston during the Commonwealth Games netball final at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.
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AFTER GUIDING the Sunshine Girls to their first major international final, coach Connie Francis could walk away before the World Cup in South Africa next year because of the mental pressure that comes with the job.

Francis, who has a four-year contract that runs out after the World Cup ends next August, revealed that at times she has been overwhelmed by the pressure of the job and will take the next few weeks off to assess herself before making a decision on whether to go on as Sunshine Girls’ coach.

“I do not know what will happen with me, personally. There are other things outside of netball that fuels a person. When I reflect on what is happening, I just want to take some time off from netball and relax with friends and family and to see where I go from here.

“I have a four-year contract and I have some players I really enjoy coaching. But for now, I just need a break.

“People might think it is an easy job, but it comes with a lot of pressure and at times I do crack under the pressure and ask myself if it is worth it,” she told The Gleaner.

“There is a lot of talk about mental issues and I can tell you it is real in my world. A lot of times I am so down, but my sister, Dawn Francis, she’s the rock behind who I am and she inspires me to be the best and do the things that I love, and I love netball.

“But it comes down to the mental issues and I don’t think it would be fair of me to be unstable and coaching our national team, so it is about taking that break and just reassessing myself.”

MENTAL STATE

Francis has a daughter attending college and wants to be around and in the best physical and mental state to watch her develop as a young woman.

“My daughter is in college and I want to see her graduate. And all of this mental pressure I do not want it to hit me down and I am not around to enjoy the moment with her and see what she can accomplish as a young lady,” she said.

She also holds an important supervisory role at Caribbean Products Limited (Seprod), and she misses her time there, as that environment helps stabilise her psychologically.

“We are on a two-week break right now and when I touch down in Jamaica, I don’t want to have anything to do with netball.

“I just want some time with friends and family and go back to my job at Seprod, and do what I love, and I love working with Seprod.

“That company has been a tower of strength for me and I cannot afford not to be there. The environment is a family-oriented one and being away for 20 days, I really miss them.

“But when I am back (home), I will do some soul searching and assess myself on what I want to do or where I want to go after this.”

Despite the pressures associated with the job, Francis noted that she enjoys coaching the national team and that she always like to see things through.

“I don’t like to leave a job unfinished and my tenure finishes next year after the World Cup and I really want to be around. But I need this break to reassess myself first,” she insisted.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com