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Australian Super Netball preparation means Jamaica is ready to upset the Netball World Cup applecart

Australian Super Netball preparation means Jamaica is ready to upset the Netball World Cup applecart
Khadijah Williams of Jamaica during the Netball World Cup 2023, Pool G match against New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre Court 1 on 3 August, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

After defeating hosts South Africa, Jamaica thumped reigning champions New Zealand. The Sunshine Girls are now ready to go all the way at the Netball World Cup.

It has been a few special weeks in Jamaican women’s sport. Their netball team, the Sunshine Girls, have qualified for the semi-finals of the Netball World Cup currently ongoing in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, The Reggae Girlz — the national women’s soccer team — created history this week by qualifying for the round of 16 in the Fifa women’s World Cup for the first time.

The Reggae Girlz sealed their fate in the knockout stages of the tournament at the expense of soccer juggernauts Brazil after securing an impressive 0-0 draw against them on Wednesday.

Their World Cup campaign comes off the back of crowdfunding to just reach the tournament in New Zealand and Australia.

Half of the members of the Sunshine Girls World Cup squad, meanwhile, travel to Australia annually to participate in the Suncorp Super Netball.

“In my opinion, I would say it’’s the best league in the world,” veteran Australian centre, Ashleigh Brazill said this week about the Suncorp Super Netball league.

Nicole Dixon-Rochester, Jamaica netball

Nicole Dixon-Rochester of Jamaica (centre, Player of the Match) with her team mates after their match against Trinidad and Tobago at Cape Town International Convention Centre, Court 1 on 2 August, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

Jamaica’s best-ever placing at a Netball World Cup is third, a feat they achieved in 2007, 2003 and 1991. On all three bronze medal occasions they finished behind Australia and New Zealand — the queens of the court who have reigned supreme in every one of the 15 previous World Cups before.

But this tournament is different for the Caribbean nation. On Thursday they trounced defending champions New Zealand 59-48 to head into the semi-finals as one of only two undefeated teams — England’s Roses are also yet to lose.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas suffer third-quarter slaughter in loss to Jamaica, but hope remains for World Cup semifinal challenge

Next up is Australia — who have an astonishing 11 World Cup titles – on Saturday, who are looking to book their place in their first-ever Netball World Cup final.

Aussie challenge

Playing in a league as competitive as the domestic one in Australia has increased the overall quality of Jamaica’s netball squad.

Six of Jamaica’s 12-player squad all play in the Suncorp Super Netball league: Romelda Aiken-George, Shamera Sterling, Shimona Nelson, Latanya Wilson, Jhaniele Fowler and Jodi-Ann Ward.

“Suncorp is the most competitive club league in the world in terms of netball,” Ward, who plays for the Collingwood Magpies, said to Daily Maverick.

“I feel like that’s a great place to be in and to have so many players performing on that stage, that definitely brought over into the country’s team so that’s a really good place to be in as a group.

“We don’t really have a lot of combinations in the league because we’re split up into several different teams.

“But we’ve been working hard on the combinations in training and hopefully we can bring that over when it matters most.”

It will be a test of students surpassing the masters on Saturday when Australia and Jamaica meet.

Khadijah Williams, Jamaica netball

Khadijah Williams of Jamaica during the Netball World Cup 2023, Pool G match against New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre Court 1 on 3 August, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

“It’s getting onto crunch time now and I feel like execution is going to be what matters the most. We’ve been going through the rounds, we’ve been working hard on our execution. We still haven’t gotten it right as of yet, but we’re still working towards it,” Ward added.

But she is confident the side can go the distance for the first time at a Netball World Cup.

“As a group, we are definitely confident. That is why we’re here.

We came to play and we came to go all the way. So hopefully we can bring it.”

Competitiveness

Brazill who is a teammate of Ward at the Collingwood Magpies, meanwhile, believes the competition for places in the Suncorp Super Netball league is what makes the league as good as it is and why Australia is able to constantly compete for titles on the international stage.

“I think being an Australian, when you look at how many players are allowed to play it, there’s 80 spots in our league and we have over 20 internationals,” Brazill said.

“There’s not many Australian spots, so every week you’re playing against the best Australians and the best internationals… it’s been great prep for us.

“It’s great to see what other players can do. And like for me personally, being with Collingwood, seeing the growth of Shimona [Nelson] and Jodi-Ann [Ward], they’ve just been unbelievable.” DM

Semi-final times on Saturday:

England v New Zealand at 11am

Jamaica v Australia at 4pm

Gallery

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