Bright outlook

Netball

Bright outlook

Netballer Shanice Beckford looks to take career higher after COVID-19

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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Despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) ruling out any possibility of on-court action in the near future, Sunshine Girl Shanice Beckford says she has no intention of hanging up her bib anytime soon.

In fact, the wily goal attack is looking forward with great optimism as she aspires to take her career to the next level.

Beckford, who has been a feature on the Jamaican team since her 2013 debut, believes there is still enough fuel in the tank to keep the flame burning for another cycle, with hopes of copping an elusive Netball World Cup medal in South Africa in 2023.

Jamaica's three World Cup bronze medals to date were in 1991 in Australia, 2003 on home soil and 2007 in New Zealand.

Since then, the country placed fourth in 2011, and the 2015 and 2019 squads Beckford played on placed fourth and fifth in Australia and England, respectively.

“Well, for now, we really do not know where netball stands going forward based on what is happening around the world. I know we had a couple of tours in place that had to be postponed because of the pandemic, but I believe we will get through this by God's grace.

“So, I will be sticking around for the next four-year period which would be for the next netball World Cup, and I will see what else netball has in store for me along the way leading up to the championship,” Beckford told the Jamaica Observer.

However, in order for her to solely focus on court when the pandemic ceases, Beckford is making the most of the time off court, placing heavy emphasis on completing her final leg at the University of Technology (UTech) during the current health crisis.

The 25-year-old, who was instrumental in the country's bronze medal performances at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Gold Coast, respectively, is pursuing a Bachelor's of Business Administration, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Human Resource Management.

“After every tour we always get a break, so basically I was just resting and focusing on school for the most parts,” Beckford said, referring to life after their Nations Cup outing in England in January during which Jamaica placed second in the fourteam tournament.

“So since the virus outbreak, my classes were moved online and I have been using the assignments to pass the time. I also do workouts in the evenings throughout the week to stay active and watch a lot of netball. But I miss playing, I miss training, I miss seeing the girls and just having a good time on court,” she added.

That said, Beckford spared a thought for her Sunshine Girls teammates Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Jodi-Ann Ward, who have bunkered down in Australia. All four players opted to stay together to see out the suspension of the Suncorp Super League during the vicious virus, which has infected millions and killed thousands of people across the globe.

“It's not easy being in another country away from family and friends, so I really feel for them, but we have a netball WhatsApp group that we use to stay in touch on a daily basis and encourage each other. So talking to them and the fact that they have each other to lean on in these serious times, offers some comfort,” Beckford noted.

Finally, Beckford, who enjoyed a short stint with Vitality Netball Superleague franchise Team Northumbria in 2015, pointed out that a return to the professional arena is also on the cards after she graduates later this year.

“It's still on my list of things to do, for sure. I haven't taken any steps just yet, but I have been getting offers that I deferred until I am finished with university first,” said Beckford, who was joined by compatriot Nicole Dixon during that stint with Team Northumbria,” the 5ft 8in player ended.


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