Netball

Aiken says support of teammates feeds her confidence

Saturday, July 20, 2019

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LIVERPOOL, England — Jamaica's goal shooter Romelda Aiken says constant support from her teammates has supplied her with greater conviction as the Netball World Cup has gone on.

Aiken, who plays professionally in Australia, suffered a bone-stress injury to her tibia in May, and has been off her best so far at the global netball showpiece.

She has mostly come off the bench, and a number of times she has been asked to play goal attack in support of the outstanding shooter Jhaniele Fowler.

“I feel like I have a lot more confidence after speaking with the girls and having that reassurance that they've got my back, and that I should just keep going to the post,” Aiken said regarding her progress after Thursday's 61-48 win over Uganda inside M&S Bank Arena.

“Having more attempts will make my confidence grow, and it's good to be able to play with the other girls out there because I haven't really played with them much. So it's good to play with the likes of Shanice [Beckford] and Khadijah [Williams], so now I find it a lot easier,” she continued.

In Jamaica's opening-match win over Fiji last week, the 30-year-old player started in the goal shooter position, and scored 26 goals from 36 attempts in a 46-minute stint.

In the encounter versus Trinidad and Tobago, which the number two-ranked Sunshine Girls won, she played 23 minutes and was seven of 13.

But the six-foot five-inch tall player did not feature in the loss to South Africa, and was handed only seven minutes while having no attempt at goal in the follow-up defeat to England, which ultimately killed Jamaica's medal hope.

In the victory over Scotland, Aiken played 33 minutes and scored 13 from 16 tries.

She started at goal attack in the contest with Uganda, battling through 49 minutes while scoring nine of 11.

“The body is a little bit sore, but that's netball for you. It is hard but you come to a competition to play netball.

“I'm not used to playing goal attack but I used my skills and a bit of running. I hope I looked pretty sharp,” she told journalists.

Yesterday's win over Zimbabwe reflected the incremental improvements in Aiken's game over the course of the competition.

Coming off the bench, she played 46 minutes and shot 27 from 35 tries.

“It felt good. Goal shooter is my position, [and] I personally felt really good out there on court, just doing what I needed to do, and yeah, I just rolled with it,” she told the Jamaica Observer afterwards.

Aiken said the tournament has been rigorous, with a number of the lower-ranked teams making it hard for the fancied sides.

“None of these teams you can underestimate in this competition. Teams like Malawi and Barbados, and even Uganda have stepped up and they are challenging the big teams. You just can't go into any game feeling complacent,” she warned.

Jamaica are scheduled to meet Malawi in the fifth-place play-off encounter tomorrow.

— Sanjay Myers


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