After a fairly decent showing on day one action, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls will be hoping to return to winning ways on the second and decisive day of the Fast5 Netball World Series, as they push for a medal in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday.

The Jamaicans, who defeated Australia 38-36 and Malawi 41-37 courtesy of some classy long-range shooting from goal-attack Gezelle Allison, failed to go unbeaten on the day, after being hammered by South Africa in a 17-33 loss.

Still, they remain on course for a spot in the medal round with only New Zealand, Australia and England –all of whom also had two wins and a loss –ahead of them on goal difference.

With that in mind, Shawn Murdock, is cautiously optimistic that the Sunshine Girls will achieve the feat, though they are scheduled to face two tough opponents in New Zealand and England.

“As always when we face England and New Zealand it’s never an easy encounter.  The English showed some fight yesterday and they are perhaps our biggest rivals internationally over the years; New Zealand are playing at home and are still smarting from their World Cup performance.

“So I expect the home crowd and their hurt from their World Cup campaign to be major factors for them.  So we just have to control the controllable from our end and ensure we are scoring goals consistently and our defenders are winning balls to provide more opportunities for us,” Murdock told SportsMax.TV.

“As you know, five doesn’t go in three, so it’s game on for a place in the medal matches. Still a major mountain to climb as five of the six teams are all in a position to still make the gold medal match. Only two can make it though, and so I expect all the teams to come battling hard today,” he added.

Jamaica’s day one performance already represents a significant step up from last year’s outing when they failed to win a single game. For that, Murdock, who is co-coaching with Nicole Aikin-Pinnock, expressed pleasure with the team’s display on Friday’s opening day.

“We are pleased with the performance of the ladies. We are from a country that loves winning so we were disappointed we never got three victories yesterday because that would have placed us in prime position heading into the two other matches today. We, however, are proud of how the ladies have performed so far,” he said.

Much like she did against the Australian Diamonds, Allison again scored a last-ditched six-pointer, to lift the Jamaicans over Malawi, in a contest where their East African counterparts lead for most of the way.

Sloppy ball handling by the Jamaicans, who led the first quarter 12-6, allowed Malawi to assert their authority from the second stanza onward.

It wasn’t until the backend of the third quarter that they started a rally and with a mere two points separating the teams in the closing stages of the fourth, Allison came up trumps with another big six-pointer in the powerplay seconds to end with 24 goals.

Captain and veteran goal-shooter Romelda Aiken-George scored 13 goals from 12 attempts, while Amanda Pinkney and Rhea Dixon both scored two goals.

However, they failed to repeat the heroics of their two earlier wins, as their shooting returns ran cold against a plucky South African team that burst their bubble.

Despite that, Murdock and his Sunshine Girls know a win over England and, or New Zealand would all put them in the final two.

“The mood heading into day two action is very positive. Of course there was a level of sadness from the ladies not being able to secure all three wins last evening, but we’ve placed that loss and yesterday behind us. 

“It’s a new day, all teams start again, so we are focusing on trying to replicate or do better than how we performed in our first match yesterday. The game is about scoring goals, and so we’ve done what we can to ensure our shooters and the overall team got enough recovery to face the day ahead,” the coach shared.

Action is scheduled for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Live coverage will be on SportsMax and SportsMax 2

Crystal Plummer had a stellar maiden Vitality Netball World Cup appearance earlier this year, as her performances in South Africa assisted Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls to end a 16-year medal drought when they claimed bronze.

Now back on the international assignment for a second Fast5 Netball World Series appearance, Plummer knows it is another opportunity for her to make a mark on the big stage with hopes that an efficient execution, both individually and collectively as a team, will propel them to another medal.

Plummer, 21, possesses incredible physical prowess and the intensity that she paraded at the World Cup is testament to the demands she puts on herself to always perform at her best.

It is that stubborn determination, coupled with an unwavering desire to succeed, that place her among a number of dangerous young prospects that will grace the court at the fast-paced, two-day tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand, and she is definitely out to prove that much.

“Honestly, I am excited and looking forward to the challenge. For me it is another opportunity to show what I can do because I am always looking to do better every chance I get. It’s about doing my best and having fun at the same time, but still focused on the goal head,” Plummer told SportsMax.TV. 

“Unlike last year when I struggled to get acclimatised, this year, I am both mentally and physically ready and I am very motivated and just looking forward to doing my utmost best to execute according to the team's game plans," she added.

Should the now Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock-coached Sunshine Girls achieve the medal feat, it would represent a significant improvement on last year’s display when they placed at the foot of the six-team ladder without a win. It would also be the country’s fourth Fast5 medal and first since 2018.

But that is easier said than done, as Australia, England, Malawi, South Africa and seven-time champions New Zealand, are all formidable opponents, who will take some amount of beating.

“It’s always challenging, but the entire team is up for the challenge and we will be leaving it all on court as we hope to come away with a medal. I have a saying ‘work hard and win easy’, so again, I am ready for the excitement of Fast5. My aim is to be one of the standout players for this year’s competition and to do that I will need to be consistent in how I play to get the job done,” Plummer declared.

The wing defence, who has been a staple in the Sunshine Girls team since making her debut at the Americas qualifiers on home soil last year, was also a part of the historic Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games winning team.

Having grasped significant lessons from those, and in particular, the World Cup outing, Plummer said she has benefitted from self-preparation, as she is well aware that there is always room for improvements.

“Preparation will never be easy, but I am committed to doing what I have to, to achieve my goals and that included working on my confidence and my passes. So, as it is now, I am refuelled for this mission because each time I get to showcase my skill against world class players, it is basically one of my goals crossed off the list,” the cheerful player ended.

Live coverage is on SportsMax and SportsMax 2, starting this evening at 6:00pm Jamaica time, while coverage on Saturday’s second day is slated for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Jamaica squad: Romelda Aiken-George (captain), Adean Thomas (vice-captain), Gezelle Allison, Theresa Beckford, Rhea Dixon, Abbeygail Linton, Amanda Pinkney, Crystal Plummer, Kimone Shaw, and Abigale Sutherland.

With the high of last year’s Fast5 Netball Series debut still fresh in her mind, Amanda Pinkney is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of not only improving her performances, but also the possibility of Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls challenging for a medal on this occasion.

Though the Sunshine Girls lost all five games played and ended at the foot of the six-team ladder without a point last year, Pinkney celebrated the minor victory of being named Player of the Game in the Jamaicans narrow 27-28 loss to South Africa.

Pinkney, who play both goal-shoot and goal-attack positions, also had the distinction of ending that tournament as the player to score the most three-point goals, a feat which she knows she is very much capable of repeating.

“Last year was really good year for me, it was my first time participating in the Fast5 competition and it was a really good eye-opening experience in terms of the level of competition and the pace of the tournament. Some high for me was the connection that the players had and also when I received the Player of the Game award, that really showed me that I am very much capable of doing great things if I remain focused,” Pinkney told SportsMax.TV from the team’s base in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“At that same tournament, there were some concerns about the team’s readiness, but we weathered the storm and gradually improved each game, and we gave it our best. So, it is just about focusing on our responsibilities, both individually and collectively as a team and once we do that, I know we will be much more competitive this year,” she added.

The Sunshine Girls will indeed require some degree of consistency to complement their speed and agility, as they are expected to again face some stern tests against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi and England in the fast-paced six-team tournament scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

With Jhaniele Fowler being absent, New South Wales Swifts star Romelda Aiken-George will lead from the front, with Gezelle Allison, Pinkney, and former England Under-21 Rhea Dixon, who recently became eligible to represent Jamaica, expected to complement her shooting prowess.

Adean Thomas, Theresa Beckford, Kimone Shaw, Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland and Abbeygail Linton, complete the team coached by former captain Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock.

For Pinkney, 24, copping an historic gold at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in El Salvador earlier this year, provided the necessary impetus to fuel her ambitions for this tournament and beyond.

Simply put, Pinkney has a desire to become a staple in the Sunshine Girls team going forward and to do so, she is well aware that she will have to work diligently to improve her craft.

“My goal is to perform better than I did both at last year’s Fast5 and also at the CAC Games. I want to showcase strong teamwork, to improve my individual skills. So even after this tournament, I intend to take the lessons and experiences back to Jamaica and continue putting in the work because I am hoping that I can get a contract in one of the international netball leagues,” she shared.

But, for now, the immediate focus of the soft-spoken player is to exude the necessary confidence and willpower to assist the Sunshine Girls medal ambitions in Christchurch, as she knows that maintaining the enthusiasm is essential to trigger further development to bring about the much-needed excitement and fulfillment she desires.

“Things are going good so far, I honestly can’t complain, I think I’m more ready for Fast5 this season than before because I have so much confidence in myself and my teammates and I know that we will do much better than the last season,” Pinkney declared.

“I know the teams won’t come easy, but we definitely won’t back down. Like I said, I think this year I got more practice for the competition and not only that, but the combination that we practiced I think that will make the difference from last season. So, it might seem far-fetched but I’m also hopefully that we will win the tournament,” she ended.




Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, head coach of Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls concedes that without some the team’s best players, campaigning in next month’s Fast5 World Series Netball Tournament in New Zealand next month will be challenge.

However, she believes the coaching staff will get the available players ready for what are expected to be stern tests against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi and England in New Zealand.

Jamaica recently named its team for the tournament set for November 11-12 and notably absent were the experienced Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson, key defensive stalwarts for reigning Suncorp Super Netball champions Adelaide Thunderbirds. Also missing is Jhaniele Fowler, arguably the best shooter in the world, who represents the 2022 Super League champions West Coast Fever.

However, the team that will be led by New South Wales Swifts’ star shooter Romelda Aiken-George will include Adean Thomas, Gezelle Allison, Theresa Beckford, stand out U21 player Amanda Pinkney, Kimone Shaw, Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland and former England U21 Rhea Dixon, the Loughborough Lightning attacking player, who recently became eligible to represent Jamaica.

Aiken-Pinnock revealed that the players have been undergoing rigorous training in preparation for the campaign.

"Fast 5 is tough,” she explained. “I have been to so many Fast 5s as a player and it’s really challenging. You’re playing five teams over two days. Even though it is a shortened version of the game, it still requires a lot more thinking. You truly have to understand what is it that you're about. You have to be ready at all times. So there is a lot that is required of you. There's no trying to feel sorry for yourself. So we're trying our best with the resources, with everything that we possibly have with the players.”

Providing some insight into how tough the sessions have been, Aiken-Pinnock drew reference to a shooter Gezelle Allison, who is returning to the national set up since giving birth to her first child mere months ago.

“Saturday morning we had a training session and literally we pushed them. We really, really pushed them a lot,” Aiken Pinnock revealed.

“I remember Gezelle, she was down on her knees and she was like “Coach” because it was really tough. They found this session to be one that was really, really tough for them. And I just had to remind them that this is exactly how you're going to be feeling when you get there. So they we have to bring them through the regime of what will be.”

Turning her attention to the absence of the defensive stars Sterling and Wilson, Aiken-Pinnock explained that after a busy schedule that included the Netball World Cup and the Suncorp Super Netball League, the players requested the time off.

"The senior girls, after the world championship they really needed the time off the rest and recover and we know how well all of them play Down Under and so they're also have to get their recovery in and going back down to their job. So we have to take all of that into consideration,” the coach explained.

"They have requested the time off from the association there's nothing we can do about that. And so for me, I try not to spend too much time thinking about that situation that because we can't fix that. So we just have to ensure that we pay close attention to the ladies who we are going to be working with and trying to get the best out of them so that they can perform and represent Jamaica.”

What this means is that the defensive players in the squad have big shoes to fill but the coach expressed confidence that they will deliver.

"So we definitely don't have any of our experienced defenders who would have gone to World Championship or any of the players who are playing Down Under. In terms of the defensive line up, definitely it's a challenge but we have to have faith in the ladies that we have and so while the time frame for preparation is also very short we are putting in as much work as we can,” she said.

“We have Kimone Shaw, she was at the World Championship in the squad of 15 as a reserve and she too went to the CAC Games. There's Teresa Beckford and Abigail Linton. So we just have to work on the confidence of these ladies and just getting them to be a bit more aware, getting them to be hungrier, getting their netball marks up and ready for what is to come.”

Linton will be playing in her first Fast 5 team but was a member of the Sunshine Girls gold-medal winning team at the CAC Games earlier this year.

Aiken-Pinnock shared her thoughts on what Dixon will bring to the Sunshine Girls line-up. The former England 21 qualifies to represent Jamaica through her grandmother with the move sanctioned by World Netball.

Aiken-Pinnock said she brings significant skills to the set up and has been working hard to achieve the required fitness standards.

"She put her hand up about expressing an interest in representing Jamaica. She has gone through interviews and that sort of thing. We have met with her, we have discussed with her. She's actually in training too at the moment. She has been in training for a little while too,” the former player turned coach revealed.

"It's an opportunity that I'm sure she's grateful for and she and she's very much excited about it. We just have to give her that platform for her to showcase her skills and wanting to represent Jamaica."

Aiken-Pinnock revealed that the Loughborough Lightning player, who is likely to be a starter, has been spent the past few weeks in the United Kingdom preparing for the competition.

“She's been training for a little while, weeks, because one of the things that we have done with her is that there's a test, a fitness test that she basically has to do on a weekly basis, just like our girls. She recorded herself doing the tests. She's in commission mode, not at the elite level in England, but I know that she's representing her university at the moment.

" She did pretty well on the fitness tests. So it's just about maintaining that consistency until she gets here to be with us, which is in a couple of days’ time. She has some experience with regards to high level competition and I'm sure that she's going to bring that same energy and effort to the Jamaica squad.”


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

"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

While Jamaica's Netball culture and current ranking pits the Sunshine Girls as overwhelming favourites to win gold at the upcoming Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, Nicole Aiken-Pinnock is mindful that it still requires efficient execution to get the job done.

As such, Aiken-Pinnock, who will guide the 12-member number-four ranked Jamaican team to the 24th staging of the June 23 to July 8 Games in El Salvador, is taking steps to guard against complacency and ensuring that players take nothing for granted.

"On paper, we are expected to win, but at the same time, we know the games aren't played on paper so we will not only have to turn up, but more importantly, execute accordingly. So, we just have to take it one game at a time," Aiken-Pinnock said.

"We have to turn up and be ready for every game. We have to respect our opponents and make sure we give of our best regardless of who we play against because they will not be handing any win to us. I am sure we will have to work hard for our wins, so we have to just work hard and believe in our structure and execute," she added.

Aiken-Pinnock revealed that their preparations have so far been on course to achieve their intended goal, with only some fine-tuning required over the next week.

"Preparations have been going well, I can tell you that there is a lot of intensity and focus at the sessions. The drive and effort of the ladies is commendable, and we just have to keep working at the small things and try to be as consistent as possible," she said.

Aiken-Pinnock, a former defender, who represented Jamaica at numerous major tournaments, knows the importance of a fielding a solid team with some depth, which is why she welcomes the addition of the experienced Adean Thomas and Rebekah Robinson to accompany rising stars Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland, and defender Kimone Shaw, who are all a part of the squad to the World Cup later this year.

With this being the first time in CAC Games history that netball will be a part of the multi-sports event, Aiken-Pinnock said it represents an opportunity for the young players, in particular, to show their class and, by extension, gauge their readiness for the showpiece in South Africa.

"We do have a few ladies who will be participating in their first major tournament for Jamaica away from home, so we just have to ensure that stay mentally prepared and ready for what is to come at the Games," Aiken-Pinnock noted.

These games will definitely assist our young players going into the World Cup, especially Crystal, to prepare her for what is to come at the big dance," she ended.

Full Squad:

Shooters – Shadine Bartley, Simone Gordon, Amanda Pinkney, and Rebekah Robinson

Centre court – Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland, Adean Thomas, and Quannia Walker

Defenders – Theresa Beckford, Paula-Ann Burton, Abbeygail Linton, and Kimone Shaw


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