Former Collingwood shooter Shimona Jok has been elevated from her training partner role to the active roster of the Melbourne Mavericks in the Suncorp Super Netball League. This promotion comes as the Mavericks face the loss of Sasha Glasgow, who has been sidelined for the season due to a fractured leg.

The decision to bring the Jamaican into the 11th player position, a tactical addition introduced this season, reflects the team's confidence in her abilities. Shae Bolton-Brown, Mavericks' head coach, expressed enthusiasm about the development, emphasizing the value that Jok brings to the team's attacking strategy.

"Elevating a player of Shimona's class into our 11th player is huge for us," said Bolton-Brown. "Shimona offers a whole new style of play in our attack end, creating a layer of depth that is critical to our game plan."

Jok joined the Mavericks as a training partner following the conclusion of the 2023 season after Collingwood's netball operations ceased. The Mavericks, under the new ownership of SEN, welcomed Jok and other former Magpies players into their ranks.

 

Barbados maintained their stranglehold of the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball Championships, as the island's Under-16 netballers secured a third-consecutive hold on the title after bettering Grenada in the finals at the Beausejour Indoor Facility in St Lucia, on Wednesday.

The young Gems, led by goalshooter and tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) Keanna Harte, outclassed their opponents 27-19 to again end the tournament with an unbeaten record intact.

Harte netted 19 of her 21 attempts, as goal-attack Tyesha Trotman scored seven of her 10 attempts, while Tyra Griffith had a solitary goal from three attempts. Grenada's effort was led by Keisha Mathurine who scored 17 goals from 22 attempts and goal-attack Reshonna Francis, who had two goals from three attempts.

Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and hosts St Lucia were the other participating countries.

To stamp their dominance, the Baby Gems also took home the majority of awards on offer. They won prizes for best uniform, most disciplined team, best spirited team, best goal average and best defending team, and placed second in the shooting competition.

Harte along with Deeya Forde-Haynes, Chelsea Best, Trotman and Griffith were also named in the top 16 players of the tournament.

President of the Barbados Netball Association, Dr Carmeta Douglin was full of praise for the team. She said the impressive showing by the Cameron Greenidge-coached team was as a result of hard work and dedication by the juniors.

“A big congratulations to our Baby Bajan Gems who have done extremely well once again at the Jean Pierre Caribbean Netball tournament. They have dominated this tournament for the last three years winning every game that they played and this year in St Lucia they were victorious in every game in the preliminary round, in the knockout and now they are the champions once again, so congratulations to the entire team," she told Barbados TODAY

“They usually start very slow in the first and second quarters, but they built the momentum and by the third quarter they really outplayed everyone. They also captured a number of different awards, and we would like to congratulate every player,” Douglin added.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Suncorp Super Netball star Sam Wallace-Joseph has come under fire for her stance on the International Transgender Day of Visibility falling on the same day as Easter Sunday.

Held every March 31 since 2009, the day has been set up as a celebration of pride and awareness, while aiming to recognise trans and gender-diverse achievements. Wallace-Joseph, a two-time NSW Swifts champion, shared a clickbait headline from a Canadian outlet that insinuated United States President Joe Biden had "declared" Easter Sunday would be the recurring day for International Transgender Day of Visibility moving forward.

"The disrespect is crazy. Don't play with God," Wallace captioned an Instagram story.

The day's crossover with Easter this year was used by some to criticise the United States president and suggest he was co-opting a religious holiday to promote trans rights. Fans criticised Wallace-Joseph's post and pointed out the misleading nature of the headline, but the Trinidad and Tobago shooter doubled down.

"I'm not hating on people, if you know me you will understand … I have heaps of gay friends and am not judging anyone on their gender," she wrote in a X, formerly Twitter, post.

Wallace-Joseph also confirmed she still planned to play in the NSW Swifts Pride Match in May. The Instagram story and relevant tweets have since been deleted after intervention from the Super Netball club, which distanced itself from her comments.

"The NSW Swifts are aware of a social media post that has caused understandable hurt to members of the transgender community," a statement read.

"The views expressed in the post are not shared by the club. The club spoke with Samantha raising its concerns. It is important to note that Samantha listened and will meet us tomorrow," it added.

The Super Netball league also issued a similar release, reinstating its commitment to "embrace diversity and ensure the sport is welcoming and safe for everyone who wants to participate", while it works closely with the Swifts regarding the sport's code of conduct.

St Patrick’s Primary of Kingston and St Andrew retained their INSPORTS Primary Schools All-Island Netball title, while St James’ Corinaldi Avenue Primary were crowned football champion on Tuesday.

St Patrick’s defeated Bethabara of Manchester 23-21 in a close encounter played at the Leila Robinson Court at Independence Park, while Corinaldi edged Rosseau Primary, also of Kingston and St Andrew, 6-5 on penalties after battling to a 0-0 draw in regulation and extra time.

Both all-island champions walked away with $200,000 each, as the runners up collected $125,000 each.

Third-place finishers White Horses Primary of St Thomas and Portland’s Port Antonio Primary earned $75,000 for their efforts in the netball and football competitions respectively. White Horses defeated Corinaldi of St James 20-17, and Port Antonio bettered Holland Primary 3-1 on penalties.

The fourth-placed teams received $50,000 each.

Both winning coaches, Lecia Walters of St Patrick’s and Recardo Esmie of Corinaldi were rewarded with $10,000 each.

Shantae Powell of St Patrick’s and Donovan Carey of Corinaldi were the Netball and Football MVPs. This was especially nice for Carey, who suffered a broken leg last year.

While applauding the winners, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who assisted young Carey last year, revealed an additional incentive.

“It has been a thrilling season with fantastic performances from all of our teams. This is a testament to all the hard work and dedication that has been put in over the season and I am proud to see such wonderful talents on display,” Grange said during the closing ceremony at the National Arena.

“In addition to the prize money, twenty (20) football students (male and female) will be offered the opportunity to attend a one-week football camp to be hosted by the Spanish club OSASUNA from April 8-17 at the Barbican AstroTurf,” she shared.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for our young athletes to hone their skills and learn from some of the best in the business. Furthermore, five primary school coaches will also be offered the chance to attend the camp to enhance their knowledge and expertise in the world of football,” the minister added.

That said, Grange made mention of Jamaica and Chelsea’s rising sensation Dujuan “Whisper” Richards, who was discovered from this same competition.

“A few years back for the 2015/2016 season, we unearthed one Dujuan ‘Whisper’ Richards of Harbour View Primary, who went on to Kingston College and made a name for himself in the Manning Cup and now, he is at one of the biggest clubs in the world – Chelsea FC,” she noted.

“This is the kind of impact we want coming out of these football and netball competitions. These programmes will enable us to bring to the fore, the best talent in a competitive environment in line with INSPORTS mandate of unearthing talent in every nook and cranny of Jamaica,” Grange explained.

The INSPORTS competitions – arguably the best of their kind anywhere in the region – started in December 2023 with 280 schools involving 4,200 kids in netball and 5,600 in football of which 560 were girls, as each team needed to have 2 girls.

Result

Netball

St Patrick’s Primary 23 vs Bethabara Primary 21

White Horses 20 vs Corinaldi Primary 17

Football

Corinaldi 0 vs Rosseau 0 (Corinaldi won 6-5 on penalties)

Port Antonio 0 vs Holland 0 (Port Antonio won 3-1 on penalties)

In a thrilling showdown that left fans on the edge of their seats, the West Coast Fever defeated the  New South Wales Swifts 52-50 in the opening match of the 2024 Team Girls Cup. With her remarkable accuracy and undeniable skill, Fowler-Nembhard netted an impressive 40 goals from just 43 attempts, to spur the Fever to victory.

Trinidad and Tobago's Samantha Wallace led the charge for the Swifts scoring 17 goals for the losers.

From the first whistle, it was evident that this match would be nothing short of intense. The Swifts and the Fever traded goals relentlessly, each determined to gain an early advantage. But it was the towering presence of Jamaica's own Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard that truly shone in the opening quarter.

As the game progressed into the second quarter, the Fever began to assert their dominance. Led by their captain, Jess Anstiss, and the dynamic duo of Fowler-Nembhard and newcomer Olivia Wilkinson, the Fever surged ahead, much to the delight of their supporters. Despite the Swifts' best efforts to narrow the gap, the Fever maintained their momentum, heading into halftime with a commanding lead of 27-21.

However, the Swifts were not about to go down without a fight. With determination etched on their faces, they launched a fierce comeback in the third quarter, closing the deficit with a flurry of super shots. But the Fever defense, anchored by the likes of Fran Williams and Kadie-Ann Dehaney, stood firm, refusing to buckle under pressure. Meanwhile, Shanice Beckford provided a taste of her lightning-fast reflexes, expertly maneuvering the ball to her teammates and contributing two crucial goals from two attempts.

As the final quarter unfolded, the tension reached its peak. With the score-line neck and neck, every possession became crucial. But it was the Fever who held their nerve when it mattered most. With Alice Teague-Neale orchestrating the midfield and Sunday Aryang showcasing her unwavering determination, the Fever managed to fend off the Swifts' relentless onslaught. And when the final buzzer sounded, it was the Fever who emerged victorious, securing a hard-fought win.

Managing director of the Netball Super League Claire Nelson hopes netball can “capitalise on this moment for women’s sport” as it strives for professionalisation.

England Netball announced last year that the Super League will be relaunched in 2025 with the vision of clubs playing in bigger venues, enhancing live and TV audience experience and providing closer competition.

Professionalisation will also aim to provide “advancements in the elite environment to ensure players can choose and experience rewarding careers in netball”.

Nelson was appointed to her role in April last year having previously worked for Netball Scotland and Strathclyde Sirens and hopes netball can “capitalise” on its moment.

She told the PA news agency: “We have some amazing targets. We talk about our 10-year strategy, but we want to win golds on the world stage at World Cups and we want to build the most competitive, commercially vibrant, captivating league in the world.

“When you look at what we have as foundations, they’re so good and everything we’re doing now is to actually capitalise on this moment for women’s sport, but more importantly for our sport.

“This is a moment for netball, our bounce back post-COVID has seen us absolutely smashing our participation and membership numbers – we’re a big sport.

“We’ve now got this professionalisation opportunity where we can go into bigger arenas and take our sport to more households.”

The Super League is already three games into the 2024 season ahead of next year’s relaunch and Severn Stars and Manchester Thunder are the only unbeaten teams, sitting three points ahead of defending champions Loughborough Lightning.

The sport’s professionalisation ambitions follow in the footsteps of other women’s sports which are continuing to flourish at the highest level and Nelson believes netball is the “biggest untapped opportunity”.

“For me, netball’s the biggest untapped opportunity in women’s sport bar none,” she added.

“We’re in this moment where women’s sport is front and centre, so people are wanting to see, to experience, to consume, to support women’s sport.

“Then what we bring to the table is the opportunity to blank canvas, create this product which actually is an intersect from what happens on a court to what’s happening digitally and how we can become more lifestyle and music and fashion and entertainment, how we can unlock the talent potential in our athletes and tell their stories.”

Domestic professionalisation can only be helped by England’s Vitality Roses, who continue to enjoy success on the international stage.

The Roses earned an historic gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in a dramatic final against Australia and they finished third in the World Cup on home soil in 2019.

More recently, England took silver in their maiden World Cup final appearance in South Africa last year and Nelson believes the Roses are the “pinnacle” of England Netball’s aims.

She said: “This is the beauty of what we do here at England Netball, we’ve got the whole sport, we’ve got international, we’re going to have professional domestic and then we’ve got grassroots and community.

“All of these should be integrated and they should be complementary and that’s what we’re trying to build – this ecosystem of a sport where everyone can enjoy their experience and thrive in it, but the Roses are absolutely the pinnacle.

“I have to get the best performance programme and competition in the Super League because that is going to ensure that we have Roses success on the world stage. Roses success on the world stage makes people want to show up and support.

“It’s all interconnected and it’s all complementary, it makes my job a whole lot easier when we have great performances from these incredible athletes on the world stage.”

It’s down to the top eight in the INSPORTS National Primary Schools’ Netball and Football competitions with four football games set to kick off on Thursday.

Defending all-island netball champion St Patrick’s of Kingston will be joined in the quarterfinal round by Corinaldi (St James), Savanna-La-Mar (Westmoreland), Brompton (St Elizabeth), Bethabara (Manchester), Half-Way-Tree (St Andrew), Lyssons and White Horses (St Thomas).

St Patrick’s brushed aside Golden Grove of St Ann and will meet Brompton Primary, who defeated Flankers of St James. Corinaldi dismissed New Hope of Manchester to book their date with Savanna-La-Mar, who turned back Irwin Primary of St James.

Former champions Bethabara defeated Black River (St Elizabeth) and will meet Half-Way-Tree who defeated Nazareth of Manchester.

The fourth matchup will be an all-St Thomas affair between Lyssons and White Horses. Lysson dismissed Oracabessa of St Mary, while White Horses defeated Pot Maria also of St Mary.

Meanwhile, a new champion will be crowned in the football competition, as last year’s winners Pembroke Hall were eliminated in the first round.

The teams that made the top eight are St Aloysuis and Rosseau (Kingston), Port Antonio and Port Maria (St Mary), Corinaldi (St James), Clarke’s Town (Trelawny), Mandeville Primary (Manchester) and Holland (St Elizabeth).

There will be four games on Thursday, with St Aloysius and Rosseau set to lock horns at Jamaica College field starting at 11:30am, and Mandeville play Holland at STETHS at 10:00am.

At Annotto Bay MPSC field, Port Antonio tackle Port Maria at 11:30am, while Corinaldi and Clarke’s Town will meet at William Knibb High School at 2:00pm.

In the round of 16, Corinaldi turned back Unity (Westmoreland) 3-0 in their second leg encounter, for a 4-0 aggregate scoreline, while Clarke’s Town beat Bethel (Hanover) 3-0 winning 4-2 on aggregate.

Mandeville defeated Brompton (St Elizabeth) 2-0 on aggregate after playing to a 0-0 draw in the first leg, while Holland defeated Ballars Valley (St Elizabeth) 2-0 for a 3-2 aggregate win.

St Aloysius were the most impressive, as they dispatched Denbigh (Clarendon) 3-0 for 6-0 on aggregate scoreline, while Rousseau registered a hard-fought win over Spanish Town on penalties after both legs ended goalless.

Elsewhere, Port Antonio defeated Enfield of St Mary 4-1 in their second-leg meeting, after a goalless stalemate in the first leg, while Port Maria were impressive in destroying Norwich of Portland 5-0, to win 6-0 on aggregate.

The stage is set for some epic encounters. 

Football Games on Thursday

Mandeville Primary vs Holland Primary @ STETHS at 10:00 am

St Aloysius Primary vs Rousseau Primary @ JC at 11:30 am

Port Antonio Primary vs Port Maria Primary @ Annotto Bay MPSC at 11:30 am

Corinaldi Primary vs Clarke’s Town Primary at William Knibb High School @ 2 pm

It has been a challenging couple of years for Samantha Wallace, after a serious injury threatened her career to the point where she was left questioning her future in the sport.

The Trinidad and Tobago native, who represents New South Wales Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball League, was delivered news that any athlete dreads, especially during the high point of their career.  

“The surgeon said, 'I don't think you'll be returning to netball,'” Wallace revealed.

That news from the surgeon was as a result of a knee injury Wallace picked up in Round one of the 2022 season, when she damaged her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and meniscus. At that point, Wallace was the Swifts' leading goal scorer with a tally of 585 goals at 93 per cent accuracy for the 2021 season in which they were crowned champions.