Discarded Sunshine Girls feel disrespected by Netball Jamaica

By October 23, 2019

Jamaica’s discarded Sunshine Girls said they feel disrespected by Netball Jamaica over the decision not to select them from an upcoming quadrangular series to take place in England in January 2020.

The players said they would not be thrown out like used rags because they have served their country well. They also feel that this action by Netball Jamaica is down to the team’s performance at the Netball World Cup in July where the team finished a disappointing fifth having gone into the tournament ranked second in the world.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported recently that Netball Jamaica has opted not to select some of the best players in the world like Jhanielle Fowler-Reid, Khadijah Williams, Shamera Sterling, Shanice Beckford, Adean Thomas and Jodi-Ann Ward after they failed to turn up for mandatory training sessions set by Netball Jamaica.

Veteran player Vangelee Williams is taking the year off while Romelda Aiken is not available because of injury.

The situation represents a rocky start for newly appointed head coach Connie Francis, who has taken over coaching duties from Marvette Anderson and Winston Nevers, who were reportedly fired after the team failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England in July.

The players said they now feel like they are being targeted.

“There has yet to be a proper discussion with the entire team coming out of the world championship,” said mid-court player Khadijah Williams in a post on Facebook.

“Yes, we know everyone is disappointed with our performance at the last World Cup as are we, but the way Netball Jamaica has gone about this situation is very disrespectful to us as players who have done nothing but give of our best for the country.

“We received an e-mail to inform us that we are now retired and there is currently no Sunshine Girls after none of us has stated in words or on paper that we wish to not continue playing.

And, with that disrespect to say that we come to the trials or else that’s it, added an even greater insult. We all don't play for money, we play for the love of the sport and for the past four years we have been taking disrespect after disrespect and it has gotten to a point where we will not take anymore.”

The current situation stems from an email Netball Jamaica sent to players on September 19, stating that trials for the quad series would be held on September 28 for players from Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine.

Players from all other parishes should turn up on October 5.

Veteran defender Vangelee Williams said the players were taken by surprise by this new system of selection.

“This trial for the long squad is very new to us,” she said in a Facebook post in response to a poster accusing the players of displaying ‘attitudes’ that resulted in their poor play at the World Cup.

“Nothing was communicated that changes are going to be made and this is how it will go from now on.”

The players received another email on October 1 that said:

“This is the final opportunity for all former Sunshine Girls to make the squad. With the exception of the players who are currently off the island, you are all required to attend this final training session.”

 “We received an email that trials will be on the 5th of October and we are to attend. So I asked ‘do the current sunshine girls need to be at this trial?’ I got a response stating that there are no current Sunshine Girls so, yes, I’d like to think so if you’re interested’.”

Williams said the players were incensed.

“We did not say we are resigning - we did no such thing. Because we felt used and disrespected we did not turn up to that trial on the 5th.”

Another email followed which only fuelled the players’ anger.

“We get got another email that explicitly said ‘that this is the last chance for the former Sunshine Girls to turn up to trial in order to make The Long Squad,” Vangalee said.

“Of course, this riled up us some more. So, because we are former (players) we decided to not go to trial. It’s clear what their agenda was so we made it easier for them.

“We the players are not used rags! You can’t throw us out like we did nothing for the country!”


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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