KINGSTON –– President of Netball Jamaica Marva Bernard is talking up the Sunshine Girls’ chances of winning the Netball World Cup.
Speaking at the launch of an Under-12 tournament in the parish of St James on Tuesday, Bernard said the time was right for Jamaica to leave a major championship with a gold medal, adding that the necessary support for the girls was in place.
The Jamaicans have never finished higher than third in an international competition, but with a string of impressive sponsorship deals and added preparation in their build-up, the netball administrator is hoping it translates into meaningful victories and lifts them into unchartered waters at the World Cup later this year.
Jamaica’s next big assignment is the International Netball Federation’s Netball World Cup to be held in Sydney, Australia, from August 7-16. Preparations are in high gear and with sponsorship seemingly now a non-issue, Bernard believes the Sunshine Girls are primed to shake up the established Australia-New Zealand stranglehold.
“We expect the girls to come back home from the World Cup with a medal, hopefully a gold medal. It will not be easy, but we are preparing well and with all hands on deck, I strongly believe it is achievable,” she said.
“The national programme is in a good state at the moment and if you look at where we were in relation to sponsorship, it is looking good now. Sponsors are coming on board and that is always a great sign. Now the girls can focus on changing the guard in world netball,” she said.
Twelve primary schools are down to participate in the Under-12 competition, the first of its kind in St James, and Bernard used the occasion to motivate the young players, many of whom she noted will in the future be in line to represent Jamaica on the international stage.
“This is where it all begins; it is grassroots netball that will be the changing force in the sport in years to come and these youngsters are indeed the future of Jamaica’s netball programme,” she said.