New coach warns netballers - Get fitness up to speed

April 20, 2017
England's Anshleigh Dekker (centre) shoots over Jamaica's Abby Gail Linton (right) and Tara Gay Heaven.

NEW Sunshine Girls coach Jermaine Allison-McCracken has warned players that they must develop their athleticism if they expect to remain part of the national set-up.

Allison-McCracken, an Englishwoman who landed the top job in a swirl of controversy ahead of home girl and celebrated former national captain Connie Francis, said the Sunshine Girls are not athletic enough to keep up with the likes of the top three netball-playing nations - Australia, New Zealand and England.

"They're just not athletic enough to deal with the girls who are playing netball full time. That was also the situation with the girls in England until last year.

"In order to break through to number one, we have to be as strong and as fit as them," Allison-McCracken pointed out, though noting that the top countries pay their players full time whereas the Sunshine Girls are part-timers on stipends.

"Jamaica plays part time but if we can make inroads with fitness we can just do the best we can with what we have. Because we don't have the money, we need to work on the athleticism and physical abilities. They're all good netball players but, when you come up against international elite athletes, you have to have an edge.

"My goal is to make them fit as possible and come within one point of these three teams in the next World Championships. It would be amazing if we could win, but I don't think it's possible with the funding they have at the moment. So the best case is we maintain the position we now have," Allison-McCracken added, pointing out that she will be working the players hard, which some won't like.

"I don't mind if they (players) hate me as long as they produce the goods. They don't have to like me. I just do my job. If they like me, that's a bonus. If they like me, it's irrelevant, it's just to bring out the best in them," she said.

Allison-McCracken isn't into one-trick ponies and warned that she wanted sports-oriented players, not just netballers.

"I'm not dealing with attitudes of people who can't be bothered to do anything but netball. They won't be an asset to Jamaica. I'm looking for players who want to be an asset and desire to be the best they can be," she told STAR Sports, pointing out that, netball aside, she participated in a range of sports including swimming, dancing, canoeing, tennis and horse-back riding.

"That's the kind of attitude I want to see from the squad. If they hate me for it, they will love me later because that's the attitude that will get them far," she said.

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