Sunshine Girls take termination of UK Superleague in stride

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, May 28, 2020

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WITH the cancellation of the 2020 elite netball tournament in the United Kingdom (UK) contracted Jamaican players are expressing their agreement, noting that health and safety in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic are priority.

Rebekah Robinson, who plays for Wales-based Celtic Dragons in the Vitality Netball Superleague, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the move was very much on the cards given the dire effect the virus has had on the UK in particular.

“I'm very disappointed, but I was preparing for it [the cancellation], because the UK has been going through a tough time with the whole pandemic,” the 25-year-old goal attack said during a telephone interview from her base in Cardiff, the Welsh capital.

Up to yesterday, coronavirus deaths in the UK reportedly stood at over 37,000 from approximately 267,000 confirmed cases.

While the number has been trending down in recent weeks, at the peak of the outbreak the UK was recording up to 1000 deaths daily.

“There have been a lot of cases, not to mention the number of deaths per day. It was high for a very long time…but I was still keeping hope,” Robinson, who played for Jamaica's Sunshine Girls at last year's Netball World Cup in England, said.

Robinson's compatriot, Latanya Wilson, who also plays for Celtic Dragons, voiced her solidarity with the decision.

“I have a set of goals I was trying to accomplish, so I'm a bit disappointed. [But] the cancellation is for the best; it's for the players' health and well-being,” the 19-year-old, who primarily plays as goalkeeper, told the Observer.

Wilson most recently donned the Sunshine Girls uniform during a four-nation series in England in January.

Wing attack Adean Thomas, who represents London Pulse, is another Jamaican plying her trade in the Superleague.

A member of the Sunshine Girls squad at the 2019 World Cup, she also said she was disappointed, but suggested the move was inevitable.

“[I am] sad because I was doing so well and enjoying every bit of my experience. But, I mean, it's for the best because our health comes first,” Thomas, 25, told the Observer.

Earlier yesterday governing body, England Netball, announced the termination of the Superleague campaign with immediate effect, following consultation with the league's board, all 10 teams, and stakeholders.

The league was suspended in mid-March after only three full rounds of fixtures.

Organisers said, logistical challenges aside, the resumption of the league was not economically viable without the benefit of crowd attendance inside venues.

“I think it was a good decision because you think of the safety of not only players but the crowd as well. And netball here can't be played without the crowd, because the crowd is what they use to get income into the clubs. I know they discussed it in and out and they've thought of many scenarios through which it could have been played,” Robinson explained.

She said players' wages have not been affected as a result of the cancellation.

“We are contracted, and of course, it wasn't our fault that any of this happened…we'll still be paid by the club. We're international players [who were] contracted by them, this is no fault of ours, so yeah, they are sticking by us,” the goal attack said.

While Robinson and Wilson, who share an apartment in Cardiff, have been in the UK since January, Thomas's time there stretches back to November 2019.

Thomas said she was based in England's capital London while the competition was active, but has been staying farther north in Manchester during the State-declared lockdown.

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