KINGSTON Jamaica – A few weeks after winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games as part of Jamaica’s netball team, national representative, Shanice Beckford, is still on quite an emotional high.
The team’s ultra-talented goal/wing attack said she is still filled with a world of emotions from the Games, but would deem it historic regarding what the team accomplished.
“I can’t explain the feeling. It was more mixed emotions for me: happiness, overwhelming, historic anxiety, tiredness. But if I should pin something, it would be historic and accomplished,” she said.
After a titanic tussle with Australia, the ‘Sunshine Girls’ shouldered a 55 – 51 defeat at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.
The silver, which was achieved on the nation’s independence weekend this summer, marked a capstone moment for the Sunshine Girls, who illuminated the netball tournament, reaching their first ever Commonwealth Games final.
“It was nothing short of historic. We have never been to a gold medal match before and to get the opportunity to play in one was simply amazing; we felt accomplished,” she said.
Netball is a high intensity intermittent sport that requires players to possess a range of physical characteristics to perform at the highest level.
Asked how she manages to juggle the demands of her duties as business operations specialist at the VM Group, while staying in shape to compete at the highest level, the bubbly 27-year-old said it requires a regimen and putting in the extra work.
“Personally, for me, I don’t have a regimen but as it relates to eating and drinking, I try to stick to the healthier stuff,” she said.
“The national team trains four times per week and I will add another extra day sometimes. I also have a high metabolism so that’s a plus for me.”
“I’m grateful for the support from my VM leaders and colleagues. Their encouragement means a lot” she added.
While she doesn’t have to maintain a strict diet to maintain her fitness, Beckford does concede that the sport has left her with more than her fair share of battle scars.
“I would leave a netball match with black and blue marks on the body, scrapes, ‘buss mouth’, ‘buss eye’, cuts and twisted ankles,” she said, laughing. “You really have to love it, because when you play at a high level, you can really take a beating.”
Despite the scrappy nature of the game at times, but the Queen’s High alum loves it dearly, and over time has become one of the sport’s most influential and effective goal attacks, known for her deadly accurate shot and up-tempo passing style.
“Netball has become one of the biggest team sports in the world. As a fast moving and non-contact team sport, we love the game, she said.
“It promotes teamwork; showcases diversity within sports. You gain opportunities; it helps you to stay fit. We love the game, it allows us to form long-lasting friendships and it’s progressive in that we are always learning new things,” she added.
Beckford read for a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in Human Resources and has become a key member of the VM team.
She won the RJR Sports Woman of the Year award in 2014 and 2017, and shared that she would love to someday have the opportunity to become a fitness ambassador for teenage girls.
In the past, Beckford had distinguished herself in the semi-professional leagues in Jamaica. She is a three-time Berger Elite League champion, winning MVP, top shooter and best-attacking player, and player of the tournament awards.
She has often eyed the possibility of competing in the professional leagues in England, New Zealand and Australia.
Vitality Netball Super league franchise Team Northumbria signed Beckford after a stellar showing where the national team placed fourth at the 2015 Netball World Cup. She won a scholarship at the Northumbria University while she played in Newcastle, England.
“Yes, I do think about playing professionally overseas and I have played in the England Super league for one season back in 2016,” she said.
“It was a really great experience. In the meantime, there is a local netball business house league.”
“There’s no ‘I’ in the team and while my skill set is impeccable, I still need a team to be able to dominate,” she said.
VM Group has a long tradition with the national netball programme. VM’s own Karlene Waugh, Assistant Vice President – Group Operations Monitoring & Quality Control, is also treasurer of Netball Jamaica.
There are some who believe that netball is a more physically and tactically demanding sport than basketball. Beckford, when asked, gave a characteristically nuanced response.
“Netball is somewhat like basketball. No, it’s not harder to play, we just rely more on tactical and structured plays on the court rather than timeouts. As netballers, we have so much more off-the-ball movement to do and the game is at high intensity and much faster while shooters require accuracy, not a backboard,” she said with a grin.
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