Aiken-Pinnock believes Jamaica's netball will reap benefits of continuity; says World Cup experience a boost for young players

By July 12, 2023
Head coach Nicole Aiken-Pinnock (left) with assistant Phylis Thompson at the CAC Games in El Salvador recently. Head coach Nicole Aiken-Pinnock (left) with assistant Phylis Thompson at the CAC Games in El Salvador recently. contributed

Having had much success as a player and now as a coach, former Sunshine Girls captain Nicole Aiken-Pinnock knows all too well about the significance of continuity which is why she is heartened by the presence and, by extension, the exposure of a number of young prospects to senior level competition.

Aiken-Pinnock, who during her time as a defender won a Netball World Cup bronze in 2007, among many other accolades, recently served as Head coach to Jamaica's team which won an historic gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in El Salvador.

It is no secret that the involvement of youth in sports has the potential to generate positive effects on the fundamental skills for development and having watched the manner in which the young players, in particular, conducted themselves on and off the court in El Salvador, Aiken-Pinnock has no doubt that Jamaica's netball is in a good place.

"The young ladies were very responsive and positive from before they went into the tournament and it was amazing to see how well they conducted themselves professionally and supported each other which is what I think got us over the line, especially in the final against Trinidad and Tobago," Aiken-Pinnock told SportsMax.tv.

"This is a big year for netball in Jamaica and we can only get better from here. These young players are hungry to improve their skills and so we just have to keep working on them from early so we can improve on the quality of netball and that we can also build on the next cycle of players for next World Championship," she added.

 That next cycle Aiken-Pinnock referenced is due to the fact that a number of the country's stalwarts, Shanice Beckford, Jhaniele Fowler, Romelda Aiken-George and others, could possibly bow out of the sport after the upcoming Netball World Cup in South Africa.

It is for that reason why Aiken-Pinnock is even more pleased at the inclusion of rising stars Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland and Kimone Shaw in the 15-member squad to the July 28 to August 6 showpiece.

"I think it is very important that we have these young players in the squad, and I am pleased to see them there. Not only will they have a whole lot of experienced players around them that they can learn from, but being at the World Cup, which is the pinnacle of any player’s netball career, will give them great insight in what it takes to compete at the highest level, and what they need to instill into their own development to get there again," Aiken-Pinnock reasoned.

While the hope is that the Sunshine Girls will break a lengthy World Cup medal drought on this occasion, Aiken-Pinnock pointed out that even if it doesn't happen now, the fact that there is a good platform in place for continuity, means a podium finish could come at the next World Cup.

Along with that 2007 bronze medal, Jamaica also won bronze in 1991 and 2003, and have failed to get on the podium since then, placing fourth, fourth and fifth at the last three tournaments. 

"I am expecting the ladies to do their best, concentrate throughout the tournament, and just execute the quality netball that we know that they are able to showcase. Once they do that then I know they will be on the podium much like they did at the Commonwealth Games last year," she said.

"But for me the key is education and experience like I said, for the next cycle of players. The more we expose our young players to the highest levels of netball, both regionally and internationally, the closer we will get to achieving our objective.

"Once we have continuity within our system, then we will achieve consistent success and the historic CAC Games win which we are beyond grateful for was testament to that and also God's timing. Despite all our challenges, the ladies understood what our goals and objectives were, and they ensured they connected with and supported each other right through out that tournament," Aiken-Pinnock ended.

The Sunshine Girls squad is scheduled to depart for Cape Town on Friday and will open their campaign against Sri Lanka on Friday, July 28. They will then face Wales on Saturday, July 29, before a clash against South Africa on Sunday, July 30.

Jamaica's Netball World Cup squad: Romelda Aiken-George, Shanice Beckford, Jhaniele Fowler, Shimona Nelson, Rebecca Robinson, Nicole Dixon-Rochester, Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland, Adean Thomas, Khadijah Williams, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Kimone Shaw, Shamera Sterling, Jodi-Ann Ward, Latanya Wilson

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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