Netball Jamaica to focus on world rankings
Netball Jamaica (NJ) president Dr Paula Daley-Morris has said that although there are no planned local Test series for the national senior team as preparation for next year's Commonwealth Games, it is not without reason.
The Sunshine Girls will compete in the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia in April next year but there have been concerns by members of the sport's fraternity that the team is not being prepared as best as possible for the competition.
However, Daley-Morris told Star Sports that while the Sunshine Girls will face England on home soil next year, it will be at a date after the Commonwealth Games. She said that this is because the association has to protect the team's world ranking.
"The team cannot be focused on just Commonwealth Games and World Games," Daley-Morris said. "We have a ranking to protect so we have to spread it (test series) to meet all the needs. The other countries are doing it just like us. The test matches are geared towards the rankings. That's what we are focused on.
"There are a lot of nuances that we're balancing," she said. "You wouldn't know that but we know that and so our conversations are always on how we strike that balance and that we need to maintain high performances all year round. It's not just a one off thing where you go to the Fast5 and you do well and you go to a next place and you don't do well."
Star Sports sought feedback from other members of the local netball fraternity but most were unwilling to give their opinions for what they said was a concern for repercussion from NJ. However, two persons, a former administrator and a former national player, anonymously shared their opinions on the team's schedule of Tests.
"Your sponsors need to see their products at home," the former administrator said. "If they don't see their investment at home, then they are not getting bang for buck. The popularity of the Sunshine Girls is there, but the investment dollar and the return on the investment for the persons who have put money into the sport is dwindling because they are not being seen.
The former player shared these views, saying that it is concerning not seeing the team in local test series.
"The president - of course she has good intentions, there's no doubt about it. But I don't know what she's working on, I don't know what the association is working on. However, I think they're dropping the ball on this.'
The former Sunshine Girl said that the last local test series before the Games, being a drawn one with Barbados will not appease the public.
"The lack of preparation, the debacle that happened in the team and around the team gave a bad taste," she said. "Because of that, I would've thought the association would've arranged for the ladies to play a series after that. It pains my heart as a former player but Barbados was a disaster.
"I cannot see the (National) Arena being filled right now even if we're playing against Australia, because we haven't seen the ladies play in Jamaica. We saw them against Barbados but we didn't see any of the overseas based players. They said they were giving other players a chance for development. I'm all for that but you have to have continuity within the sport. So that's what you gave us in May? Well we need something else.
"You have to play regular netball. In order for you to get better, you have to be playing against the best as much as possible."
Jamaica's test series schedule since November 2015:
Sep 11 - 17, 2016 - New Zealand (Away) - New Zealand won 3-0
Nov 29 - Dec 4 2016 - England (Away) - Jamaica won 2-1
May 19 - 22, 2017 - Barbados (Home) - Drawn 1-1