Sun | Aug 25, 2019

Sunshine Girls need sports psychologist - Bernard

Published:Sunday | July 21, 2019 | 12:34 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Jamaica’s Adean Thomas (right) challenges for the ball as South Africa’s Karla Pretorius (GD) tries to pass it to her teammate, Erin Burger (C) during the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England recently.
Jamaica’s Adean Thomas (right) challenges for the ball as South Africa’s Karla Pretorius (GD) tries to pass it to her teammate, Erin Burger (C) during the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England recently.

LIVERPOOL, England:

Former president of Netball Jamaica (NJ) Marva Bernard believes that the present administration should consider employing a sports psychologist to assist the Sunshine Girls whenever they compete in international tournaments.

The Sunshine Girls, who are ranked second in the world, had a poor showing at the Netball World Cup (NWC), failing to secure a spot in the semi-finals for the first time since 1995.

Bernard, who led NJ from 2005-2015, told The Sunday Gleaner that the NWC is getting a lot tougher over the years while pointing to the significant improvements made by all the competing teams, particularly those ranked outside of the top four.

“I believe that the Netball Jamaica administration will do whatever is necessary to find out what went wrong,” said Bernard. “I think going forward, they may want to look at the mix of staff because I think that a sports psychologist on the team could assist because this is a high-pressure competition.”

“This is not club netball, this is not the Super League, this is not the Elite League, this is the Netball World Cup ... Maybe the time has come for us to bring along a sports psychologist to assist the players and coaches, who may need some kind of emotional support as they go through the pressure cooker,” she added.

Major disadvantage

Bernard also outlined that Jamaica’s domestic league is not on par compared to other top leagues around the world, and so most of the island’s players are at a major disadvantage whenever they compete on the international stage.

“Netball Jamaica doesn’t have the kind of leagues that would prepare for this kind of competition. Most of the other top teams have their Vitality League, they have their ANZ League, and they have their Australian League, and so their coaches go through day after day,” she said.

Bernard, who presided over the Sunshine Girls’ last medal at the NWC in 2007 when the team captured the bronze in Auckland, New Zealand, stated that like most Jamaicans, she was very disappointed with Jamaica’s performance at the championships.

“The girls have not realised their dreams, and it is difficult for everybody and it is a difficult moment for all of the players and the management team and the organisation,” she said.

Bernard, who is currently the president of the Americas Federation of Netball Associations noted that the she would be using all her expertise to develop and improve the sport in the region.

“My focus is on the Americas region, and I will always have Jamaica in my heart. We congratulate the countries in our region, and we have this strong desire for more of us to be here and to continue to do better at the next NWC in South Africa,” said Bernard.