HomeNetballJamaica netball hits highs but faces lows too

Jamaica netball hits highs but faces lows too

THE SUNSHINE Girls became the darlings of the nation after their run in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games netball final in August.

Although they lost to Australia, the team scored rare wins over powerhouses Australia, in the earlier round, and New Zealand in the semifinals, and produced their best international finish to date.

However, the local and international netball world was then rocked by coach Connie Francis’ revelation soon after that she was considering walking away due to mental fatigue and slim remuneration. However, after some time off from the job the former player was persuaded to stay on.

With sponsorship woes an ever-present bugbear for the Sunshine Girls, their performance at the Commonwealth Games brought assistance in the form of Wray & Nephew and Beryllium.

The team would head to New Zealand in an almost shambolic state for a three-game series for the Taini Jamison trophy. The issues arose after five players failed to acquire visas.

The series was also reduced to two games and with only seven members available, coach Connie Francis drafted New Zealand-based former player Carla Borrego and Australia-based Romelda Aiken, who had given birth just over a month prior, as reinforcements. Jamaica lost the series 2-0.

In October, the Sunshine Girls emphasised their status as the dominant netball force of the region at the Americas World Cup qualifiers.

Competing as a guest team, having already qualified for the World Cup, the Sunshine Girls made light work of their opponents on the way to winning all their matches.

The tournament also served as a warmup for the World Fast5 series in November. At the Fast5 tournament, the Sunshine Girls were disappointing, losing all their preliminary games as well as the fifth-place play-off match against Uganda.

In July, the under-23 team won a gold medal at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe. They defeated Trinidad and Tobago in the final game and were unbeaten in the tournament.

The Sunshine Girls ended the year ranked number three in the world.

The nation’s premier netball competition, the Elite League, remained dormant for a third successive year, after Netball Jamaica failed to generate the $8 million earmarked to fund the season.

However, the A and C leagues were staged for the first time in two years, starting in April and ending in June. Mico took the A title ahead of Tivoli and Alpha ‘B’ won the C title from Excelsior Eagles.

Business House Netball also resumed. National Housing Trust won the senior title, Appliance Traders Limited, the intermediate title, and Jamaica Fire Brigade, the junior title.

After a two-year absence high school netball returned with a truncated season, running from March to April after COVID regulations were lifted. Fifteen teams competed in the urban area competition and 16 in the rural tournament.

Holmwood won the rural final, beating Manchester High and Gaynstead won the urban area title after victory over Jose Marti.

Holmwood then defeated Gaynstead for the all-island title.

There was also an under-15 rally competition in May with Glenmuir coming out on top.

Things got closer to normal for the new school year in September and a more extended season was contested. St Catherine and Glenmuir emerged urban and rural area winners, respectively. Meanwhile, St Hugh’s (urban) and Holmwood captured the junior titles.

Glenmuir and Holmwood then took the all-island titles.

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