'We miss our families!'


'We miss our families!'

Home's where the heart is

Senior staff reporter

Friday, May 29, 2020

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THOUGH comfortable with their living arrangements in the United Kingdom, Jamaicans who were plying their trade in the Netball Superleague are dreaming of returning home after the competition was cancelled on Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But for now their travel plans are in limbo because the Jamaican government's fight to contain the spread of the virus locally included the closure of the country's air and sea ports to incoming passenger traffic on March 24.

That measure remains in effect, though the government's controlled re-entry process has been facilitating the repatriation of hundreds of Jamaicans who were stranded overseas and experiencing severe hardships.

“We miss our families, so we really want to come home… we're very anxious to come home. It's really like you're stuck, as in you really don't know what to do,” goal attack Rebekah Robinson told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview on Wednesday from her base in Cardiff, Wales.

“[We are] still waiting to hear from the government to see what their decision will be in terms of us coming home. All we have to do is just keep hope alive that we'll hear from them soon,” the 25-year-old Sunshine Girls added.

Robinson shares an apartment flat with compatriot and Celtic Dragons netball teammate Latanya Wilson.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper, who already has a handful of senior caps for Jamaica under her belt, indicated that while the club has supported both of them, there is no place like home.

“They've been like a family to us. Our coach ensures that we are okay… she's always there to provide a little talk and we catch up… our [teammates] as well,” Wilson told the Observer.

“The fact that I have Rebekah, another Jamaican player, is really good. It's a bit hard being away from family and friends in Jamaica in this whole pandemic,” the teenager added.

Another Sunshine Girl, wing attack Adean Thomas, who is across the border in England, represents London Pulse in the Superleague.

She bunkered down in Manchester with her mentor Michelle Welch when the league, which began in February, was suspended on March 15 after only three full rounds of fixtures.

“I'm living with an amazing lady I call my mom [Welch], so I'm happy and coping fine with all the motivation around me. [But] I miss my family and I'm looking forward to seeing them soon. I'm just being patient. I'll return whenever I'm able to as I cannot rush that process,” Thomas, 25, told the Observer.

While Thomas entered the UK from as far back as November 2019, Robinson and Wilson have been there since January this year.

On Wednesday governing body England Netball announced the termination of the Vitality Superleague campaign following consultation with stakeholders and all 10 teams.

The novel coronavirus — which causes the COVID-19 disease — has had a devastating impact in the UK. Up to yesterday, the reported death toll was close to 38,000 from approximately 269,000 confirmed cases.

While restrictions are gradually being eased in England, stricter lockdown measures are in effect in Wales.

Robinson said she and her club teammate have ridden the waves well, even with the virus knocking on doors close to their UK residence.

“We've been coping. Latanya and I… we were never scared; we took care to ensure we sanitised and all of that, but we were never afraid of catching the virus. You were hearing about cases, because we even had cases in our apartment building. Thank God no one died!

“We were more worried about persons around us and our families at home more than we were worried about ourselves,” Robinson explained.

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