Samantha Wallace, Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken were all winners in Round 13 of the Suncorp Super Netball League on the weekend.

Shimona Nelson scored a team-high 40 goals on Wednesday but the Collingwood Magpies suffered its 12th loss of the Suncorp Super Netball season.

In the match played at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre, Nelson scored her goals from just 44 attempts but the cellar-dwellers were never in a position to claim what would have been only their second win of the season, losing 63-53 to second-placed Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Led by Cara Koenen’s 41 goals from 45 attempts, the Lightning won each quarter 16-12, 19-15, 14-13, 14-13 for their ninth win of the season.

Nelson teammate Gabrielle Sinclair shot seven of nine in the losing effort.

A mixture of shock, sadness and disappointment greeted Mickey Haughton-James’ announcement last week that he would close the Spartan Health Club indefinitely at the end of September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gym opened in 1976 and has largely been associated with the beautiful women of the Miss Jamaica World franchise but Spartan has also been home to some of Jamaica’s greatest athletes, among them some of the very best in the world.

Reggae legend Bob Marley also broke sweat there.

Members of the West Indies cricket team, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, World and Olympic medallists and Jamaica’s world-class netballers have all, at one time or another used the facilities to hone their bodies in the pursuit of athletic excellence.

Leeroy Gray was a physical trainer at the gym for many years. Before he migrated, he worked with some of the very best including eight-time Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt; 2011 100m World Champion Yohan Blake as well as Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir.

Gray also trained St Kitts’ Kim Collins, the 2003 100m World Champion; British 100m champion Dwayne Chambers, Olympian Aleen Bailey, World Championship bronze medallist Ristanana Tracey and Commonwealth 100m champion Kemar Bailey-Cole during his time at what he described as Jamaica’s No. 1 gym.

“To hear that the gym is closing for good, it is not good,” he told Sportsmax.TV, clearly at a loss for words.

He was not the only one taken by surprise.

“I don’t even know where to start,” said Blake, the second-fastest man of all time. “Usually, when I get up in the morning I scan through the news while preparing for training. It was a shock to find out that Spartan was closing for good.

“I remember clearly this amazing facility that helped not only me, but so many of our world-class athletes reach where they are today. It was a wonderful place to do your workout and have a talk with everyone. I have many good memories of Spartan. I still can't believe it. I understand this facility has been around from 1976. It represents the end of an era. I am truly sad that it has to close.”

Blake alluded to the fact that Spartan was more than just a gym. It was a place where like-minded athletes shared conversations and inspiration with the many patrons.

Weir, who along with Bolt and Blake, finished 1-2-3 in the 200m at the 2012 London Olympics also had fond memories of the days when he trained there.

“Spartan was that place where you went and just felt motivated to work because there was so much inspiration around you. People were always encouraging you to just be your best,” Weir recalled.

“I remember when I just started at Spartan, there were always people there telling you ‘you’re gonna be good, you’re gonna be great, just continue training’

“Then seeing other sports people and artistes there putting the work in, also motivates you and lets you see that you on the TV is work that is being done on the back end.”

Former West Indies opener Wavell Hinds spent a lot of time at Spartan after his Test career ended in 2005. The work he put in there helped him prolong his playing days and for that, he expressed his gratitude to Haughton-James.

“The generosity of Mr James and the Spartan Gym contributed immensely to my career between 2007 and 2011,” he said.

“In fact, the entire Jamaica Cricket team benefited from the use of Spartan gym during the said period.  I want publicly thank Mr James and Spartan for their contribution to the development of Jamaica's cricket.”

Former Netball Jamaica President Marva Bernard said read the news of the impending closure made her very sad.

“Many, many years ago we used to get support from Mickey to use the gym to train the Sunshine Girls and I vividly remember Connie Francis, in particular. I can still see her running on that treadmill as if her life depended on it, that is how hard she trained,” Bernard said.

“And so, I want to say to Mickey, thank you so much for the years of support that you have given, not only to Netball Jamaica but several of the elite athletes in all sporting disciplines.

“Your generosity knows no bounds and I hope that one day you will rebound because you’re a good man and your gym has made a difference in many people’s lives.”

Romelda Aiken scored 45 goals from 51 attempts on Sunday but the Queensland Firebirds went down 75-67 to the Sunshine Coast Lightning on Sunday in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Anger is mounting over the indiscipline of many local and returning Jamaicans who are not following COVID-19 protocols.

Though pollster Don Anderson found that 53% of Jamaicans disagreed with the government's decision to restart the tourism sector in mid-June because of its likeliness to contribute to a spike in cases, many argue that the indiscipline of local and returning Jamaicans and their ignorance of proper COVID-19 protocols are equally a threat.

Kadie-Ann Dehaney, goalkeeper for the Melbourne Vixens, says she stayed in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of reasons “it didn’t make sense to leave Australia because our competitions could continue and the Jamaican borders were closed at the time.” Consequently, Dehaney knows what a lockdown 2.0 looks and feels like.

 

This Q&A explores Dehaney’s netball journey away from home before and during a second lockdown due to a COVID-19 spike in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

 

Melissa Talbert (MT): What is your living arrangement like?

 

Kadie-Ann Dehaney (KD): Before the pandemic, I lived with my Jamaican teammate who plays for the other Melbourne team (Collingwood magpies) based in Melbourne. Together we rented a flat located 10 minutes from our training venue.

However, from mid-March to late-May, four Jamaicans (including me) stayed in Perth, a city in Australia. At the time we were miles away from home (Jamaica) and only had each other.

Because our competition started on August 1st, both Melbourne teams (Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood magpies) had to relocate to Queensland. The virus was spreading widely in Melbourne— leading to lockdown 2.0. One that’s happening as we speak! The outbreak in Melbourne is bad; before entering Queensland we had to quarantine for two weeks.

 

MT: Why Perth?

 

KD: We were there because Jhaniele Fowler-Reid lives in Perth and she has bigger accommodation to hold all of us. We went to Perth to be together to get through the pandemic rather than staying by ourselves without family.

 

MT: Your unstable living situation because of COVID-19 could have in some way affected your mood. How does attitude/mood influence a game?

 

KD: Generally, attitude is very important for performance for anything; not just a game or a sport. For me, it’s a process. Eating healthy, sufficient sleep and staying hydrated are things that influence a game greatly. To be honest, though I’m a night owl, I have to go to bed early to perform at my best. Don’t eat right? That’s a poor game in the making right there. And if we’re being all the way honest, I’m not a big fan of drinking water, but I have to stay hydrated to do well.

 

MT: Since a lot of time is being spent inside nowadays, how do housemates make sure the other is comfortable?

 

KD: Living with someone I know beyond the court helps a lot. We played netball for the Sunshine Girls together; we just understand each other, so living together is rather easy. Though I must add, one is untidy and the other is very neat but we somehow manage to make it work by not invading each other's space— space is very important. Equally important is sharing tasks. For us, one cooks and the other cleans ... it’s things like that.

However, on days off, we do stuff together like sightseeing or head to the beach. We try to make Australia as homie (Jamaican) as possible. We also visit historical sites— we’ve seen some in Victoria and Brisbane.

 

MT: The New York Times described Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions as “some of the toughest restrictions in the world.” Based on your observations, what is the response to Covid-19 in Melbourne like?

 

KD: Melbourne, at the moment, is not responding well to COVID-19. Every state except Melbourne is back to normality. Melbourne has gone into a second lockdown—no one is allowed in or out of the state for any reason, it is mandatory to wear a mask and no one is allowed to be out beyond 800pm.

 

MT: Do you miss Jamaica? Why?

 

KD: I get so homesick! I get homesick because this country is very different from Jamaica. Not to be judgemental, but they party differently here. Going to a party means sitting down and drinking until you pass out. The food? Their food can’t compare to that of Jamaica’s.

What always gets me though is not seeing family and friends for a year. It’s very hard being away for so long.

I’m in competition at the moment (just started actually) and at the moment, the season is going well. My team is at the top after three rounds.

But not having family watch you perform is hard! Especially when the family of your teammates gets to come to games.

It feels quite lonely at times— now I’m in my fourth year and being away from family is just as tough as it was in my first year.

 

MT: Who in Jamaica do you miss the most?

 

KD: My grandma, as always.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Senior Sunshine Girl and former captain and vice-captain, Vangelee Williams, has announced her retirement from the national team.  Williams first represented Jamaica against South Africa in 2012 and over the next few years and played  Wing Defence, Goal Defence, and Goal Keep for her country.

During that time, she won medals at the Commonwealth Games and Fast5 World Series competitions but after more than 50 international caps for the perennial Caribbean queens, Williams, 28, has decided to call time on her career.

“The curtain has closed on what one would call the biggest and best part of my life. I’ve been blessed to be able to represent my country, Jamaica, over all these years. The little girl coming from the country on weekends to try and win a spot in the national program was willing, was motivated, was full of aspirations and big dreams of representing the country at the highest level,” she said while revealing that she intends to continue playing at the local level.

“I am now 28! And Lord knows I’ve made those dreams and aspirations a big reality! I am super proud of all the contributions I’ve made to the programs I’ve been a part of i.e. U16, U21 and the Senior Squad.”

 Williams, who first represented Jamaica at the U16 level, said she found success at every level at which she has represented Jamaica.

“Mi get voted captain, mi get voted player to watch, have gotten MVPs, have made the game swing in our favour with one of my famous steals have impacted others players positively, and that is and will always be a big thing for me. I want to see everyone win! Play the best netball you can and enjoy it,“ she said in her post on Facebook.

“What I’ll miss the most is the team banter, our big and very opinionated debates on the bus after training, every dancing session (where Adean (Thomas) to this date is trying to get me in rhythm. Every celebration after a big win!”

“One U16 gold medal, one U21 bronze medal, two senior Bronze at Commonwealth Games, two Silver at Fast Five, and few international and local Series wins in between and over 50 caps later I am retired and loving it.”

Two weeks ago a young footballer was shot and killed in Jamaica. Not long before that, the United States of America had a rejuvenation of its #BlackLivesMatter campaign following the death of George Floyd, who died after a policeman, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, camera rolling and all.

It has been heartening for me to see black people from all over the world standing, marching, kneeling, lying face down, repeating Floyd’s last words ‘I can’t breathe’ together to say enough is enough.

The reach of the Black Lives Matter movement has been incredible since Floyd’s death, reaching all over Europe, Canada, the Caribbean.

But I am now hoping that there is another type of spill-over effect.

Already, there is very little talk about the young man, Shemar Nairne, who was one of eight people murdered on a random Wednesday in Jamaica.

Nairne played football for a living and he isn’t the first sportsman to be impacted by violence. Sports can no longer stand on the sidelines (the irony is obvious here), while the ills of society go without highlight.

For a long time, sports has sought to stay out of the fray for fear that it will be used for political gain and lose its purity, its independence.

But in Jamaica, just as has been the case in other countries, sport isn’t immune to the problems of the society it grows from.

I asked the question, what will be sport’s response to the murder of Nairne and by extension the wanton violence that pervades an increasing number of spaces on the island of Jamaica?

The responses were the very generic indignation that something like this could happen and the condolences to the family. It was not a George Floyd moment.

Sports, like music, are great at bringing people together in Jamaica.

I can remember watching Shell Cup football and being able to run through the spaces between the seats as Jamaica beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 to lift the crown.

The peanut vendor never had to chance his arm when selling his product to me and hope that I was decent enough to pass the money person-to-person across rows of fans to get him his due. He came to my feet to sell me the salted delights and was in no danger of blocking anyone’s view.

But then I can also remember that less than a decade later, I could not move more than a few inches either side of me when the Reggae Boyz were making their historic trek towards a first World Cup berth and the peanut vendor could not hear my screams for his attention. But Bunny didn’t mind. He was very much in the black with the number of orders he was getting. And violent crimes were down.

I say all that to say, Sports and music,  have a major part to play in getting the perpetrators of violence in Jamaica to stop.

Just as the Black Lives Matter campaign has gained worldwide traction and I witnessed as people like dancehall icon Bounty Killer waved placards in front of the US Embassy calling for an end to injustice for all black people, I want a concerted response from sports stars in Jamaica.

Football clubs, cricket clubs, track clubs must lead the way in bringing about an understanding of the importance of life.

I am fully aware of the fact that #GhettoLivesMatter is about putting an end to police excesses, but I believe the slogan can mean something bigger.

For some reason, and by ‘some’ I mean I know all the reasons but will not get into it, it is largely the poor who suffer at the hands of violence and this is a bigger statement than saying the police always brutalize the poor.

That being the case, #GhettoLivesMatter is apt.

Let’s hear the voices of the Jamaica Olympic Association, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Jamaica Football Association, Netball Jamaica, the Inter-Schools Sports Association, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the sports stars who fall under all these umbrellas.

Justice for Shemar Nairne. #GhettoLivesMatter      

“Avoidance has never been a great tactic in solving any problem. It only makes matters worse.”— Says who?

Though a happy school life depended on it, I avoided netball. Playing netball was a requirement for PE at my single-sex high school. If I wanted to progress with good grades, I needed to excel at it. But, I would purposely leave my gears at home— the oldest trick in the book. I’d tell my coach that, “it was better than being absent.” She was nice about it and didn’t mind me watching from the sidelines.

While I watched, I didn't want to look too comfortable. I’d mimic the girls on the court. Pivoting was the worst. It was a burden to remember what foot did what. On a normal day, the only responsibility my feet had was to walk- lifting and setting down each foot in turn. I found it difficult to remember that I couldn't move the landing foot; other than to pivot on the spot. Once I lifted the landing foot, it couldn't touch the ground again until I released the ball. It was all too much! The mistakes stopped me from participating. Still, I managed to get full marks in netball.

As the end of the semester approached, I noticed something. My coach for netball started avoiding us.

When it was time for PE, there wasn’t anyone to hurry us up. Usually, we’d waste time in the locker room, doing absolutely nothing. Girls would spitefully change into their gears slowly and even pretended to look for missing gears. We would tell our coach that someone was missing their shirt (or any other item) and that we were helping her to find it. She thought the idea was rubbish and requested the owner to look for it. However, we wasted more time debating about why all of us needed to look for it together; obviously to find it quicker.

We no longer heard her chafing. For most classes, our coach wore a top paired with polyester sweatpants. The pants were the loudest thing ever. Especially because our coach had thick thighs that would rub against each other, the fabric eliciting a distinct sound. We could always hear her walking towards the locker room to hurry us up.

Now, P.E was basically conducted by us. Instead of being responsible and making our coach proud, we slowly neglected the session. We went about our business, roaming the campus; idling. It was risky though. If we got caught, the head of school would suspect something was wrong. She would figure that we weren’t in a class because our teacher was absent. Then, she'd appoint someone to oversee us. We didn’t want that. So we stayed on the court as much as possible having discussions about boys.

When she did show up, she'd come late.

One evening, while the girls and I were having a heated discussion about which teachers were pushovers, we heard that distinct chafing sound made when polyester pants rubbed. “Do you guys hear that?” One girl asked. “It can’t be!” said another. “There’s only like five minutes remaining for the class.” Another girl opined.

Lo and behold, it was our coach. “Hello girls, how are you?” “I have a lot of explaining to do.” She explained why we hadn’t seen her in some time. Outside of coaching us, she had other obligations for netball. According to her, the tasks were time consuming.

Almost interrupting her, one girl brought up more important matters. Since it was nearing the end of the semester, we wondered about our grades. We haven’t been learning anything and our confidence level to do a test for netball was low. About two months later, my report card showed that I passed netball.

I’m not sure what happened but I try not to question it. Netball was good to me even though I avoided it. Avoidance works – doesn’t it?

Hey guys! Let’s talk about sports gear. Particularly the adorable ones netballers wear.

Many years ago, I wanted to give netball a chance. It already had a lot going for itself.

Yes, it is a space mostly for women (that’s nice and all) but... the outfits!

The gears were so cute. I admired the over shoulder bibs, pleated mini skirts and sleeveless V neck tops. Actually, they looked too good to be sports gears. So I wondered how effective they really were.

Personally, I’d find it hard to concentrate looking as cute as I do. Whether you like it or not, attractiveness takes up a big part of a woman’s life. We try to look our best most of the time. Inside, outside and online. Especially if you're representing a company or team. There’s an expectation that you are required to meet. They expect you to look a certain way since branding is everything.

People associate your look with how successful you are and that impacts how you are treated. With that said, I’ll be more concerned about parading my gears instead of worrying about an actual match.

Come to think of it, I’d be self-conscious too. Well, because people are watching.

At matches, there's a camera following your every move from different angles and spectators are observing you for long periods. When you’re under a magnifying glass, It’s hard not to think about looks. It’s even possible to become a little insecure when you keep thinking about how you match up to your teammates in the same gears.

If I were a netball player, I’d be an insecure one. Girls with large butts in mini skirts!

How could I ever compete with that? I’d spend a lot of time questioning my body type and build. Like, why haven’t I grown into my long legs yet!!?

I see myself having to create a support group with my teammates who are also less voluptuous.

That way, we’ll have each other for upliftment. The support group will come in handy when I get sad about how the uniform fits me compared to my curvy teammates.

It doesn’t help that women are compared to each other often. Women even put other women under scrutiny.

You may think this is an old way of thinking because everyone seems to be all about individuality. Social media has an abundance of posts acknowledging the importance of representation and uniqueness.

Still, there are ‘who wore it better’ posts and others that make people feel inferior.

Who remembers Gabby Douglas? The American gymnast who became the first woman of colour to win the individual all-around event at the 2012 summer Olympics.

Despite her accomplishments, she was humiliated on social media because people compared her hair to the hair of her teammates’.

Can you imagine the unwanted attention I’d get in a uniform like that? A mini skirt and sleeveless tank will bring some people overwhelming excitement.

Excited fans and colleagues may make frequent advances because they see what they like. There’s nothing more annoying than feeling uncomfortable in a space you have to be in regularly. And don’t get me started with catcalling.

For some of you, it makes you feel good; lifts your spirit. For others, even though we expect people to get excited about the cute uniforms, we hate when people don’t know when to stop. Then, if we defend ourselves or speak up, chances are we’ll get disrespected.

With attention on my gears, my actual skills will be overlooked. Some people will get so focused on the uniforms that the game will become vain. It wouldn’t be about the heart of the players or the love for the game. Instead, it will be about the flirty movement of the miniskirts and the tightness of the sleeveless jerseys.

Yesterday I was watching a netball match. Specifically the 2018 Fast5 Netball World Series.  It was between Jamaica and New Zealand. I wanted to see how the gears are currently. I realized they didn’t have on over-the-shoulder bibs. Instead, the bibs were attached to their tops with what looked like velcro. During the match, a bib kept falling off. Players had to assist in sticking the bib back on. That’s not all. Jamaican players were seen dragging down their skirts to an appropriate length. I wondered if it was a distraction for them. It would’ve been for me.

It’s no secret, athletes perform better with effective gears. In 2006, the NBA ditched their leather ball for a new one. The new ball had microfiber material which gave players a better grip. In other sports, effective gears allowed athletes to cut through air easier, glide through water quicker and run without slipping. Hence sports gears can influence performance.

But netball doesn’t seem to have caught up just yet.

Please share your thoughts about netball gears on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use the hashtag IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Netball players in the Suncorp Super Netball in Australia have agreed to 70 per cent pay cut in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and that has prevented the league from getting started this season.

Samantha Wallace, the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball Finals MVP, said she is doing well despite missing her family back home as she waits out the postponement of the league because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has infected close to half a million people in 198 countries globally and killed more than 22,000. There are about 3000 cases in Australia, which prompted the Super Netball League Commission (SNLC) to call a halt for the season for at least the next couple of months.

“Given the rapidly-evolving landscape, the Commission has determined that the start of the season will be deferred and will not commence prior to 30 June,” a statement from the commission said on Monday.

Wallace, the shooter for the New South Wales Swifts, is among several players from Trinidad and Tobago who are in Australia and who are unlikely to be able to travel home since the country has closed its borders in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

However, Wallace said she is doing okay.

“I'm coping extremely well, to be honest. I'm safe, my health is great,” she told Sportsmax.tv.

“It's hard not being with my family and loved ones in this time but everyone back home is healthy and safe.”

However, she concedes that the league on hiatus is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

“It’s weird waking up in the morning and not have training to attend,” she said.

“Looking at the safer side, our health and well-being are way more important than a netball league at the moment. We, the athletes, have to find a way to keep fit in our backyards or wherever as possible.”

She offered words of encouragement in what will be challenging times.

“I see this as an opportunity to spend great quality time with your kids, family. Although I know it's a tough time here because some people are jobless and don't know when they will have a job again, in all I'm just grateful for life.”

When Australia closed its borders to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Jhaniele Fowler was among the thousands who were unable to leave the Land Down Under.

Tricia Robinson is the new president of Netball Jamaica after she was elevated unopposed during an Annual General Meeting at the Jamaica Olympic Association headquarters on Saturday.

Robinson is replacing Dr Paula Daley-Morris, who spent the last four years in office, is the outgoing president and should have been replaced from last December but the organization was unable to find a quorum and was also delayed by the absence of a financial statement.

Robinson comes into an organization with many problems, as Dr Daley-Morris’ tenure was frought with fighting among administrators.

At the AGM on Saturday, senior team coach Sasher-Gaye Henry was the most vocal of the high-profile members in pointing out to the new boss that there was much work to do.

According to Henry, it is disappointing to see how ‘rundown’ the sport had become in Jamaica.

Robinson will lead a board that includes Simone Forbes, Karlene Waugh, Jennifer Headlam, Keyan Murdock, Wayne Shaw, Leonie Phinn, Denise Wisdom, and Janet Johnson-Haughton.

Sloppy second-half play from Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls resulted in them losing to New Zealand in the final of the 2020 Vitality Nations Cup at the Copper Box Arena in England on Sunday.

Jamaican netball star Romelda Aiken is now an Australian citizen.

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