Head coach for the senior Sunshine Girls Connie Francis says while she would have preferred the just-concluded Seprod/Netball Jamaica (NJ) Elite League had lasted longer to give the players sufficient playing time, she was encouraged by the talent shown during such a short period.
Given this, Francis, a former Sunshine Girl, said that the selection process for players to represent the country at the 2023 Netball World Cup will now be a testy one for selectors.
The Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 will be the 16th staging of the premier competition in international netball, contested every four years. The tournament will be held from Friday, July 28 to Sunday, August 6 at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.
"Overall, I am exceptionally proud of most of them [players]. I think that some of them are sensitive when it comes to playing, especially the ones that have not been playing for a very long time. I thought that if the Elite League was a bit longer they would have been able to really show what they can do but, overall, I am happy that they got the opportunity to not only have the selectors see them but also to make a decision on them," Francis told the Jamaica Observer.
"It is just about getting the right chemistry and the right team to go into the tournament. I am not totally disappointed but I wish the talent would have shown up a little bit more," Francis admitted.
Being an expert at the game, Francis said that the most important thing to look for when selecting a team is the growth of the players and how well they gel with each other.
"It is about the growth with the squad, the growth with the senior players, the growth with the junior players, and having that chemistry. You know we have a mixed team. We put players with players who have not been playing for a long time, and most of the time it worked because most of the time you see that they are trying to have that flow when it comes to putting their games together.
"So those are the things we are looking for, the growth within the team. There's so much positive there as we have some excellent passages of play, especially from the young players who are really trying their best to make selection for the squad," explained Francis.
Francis said there were a lot of positives that can be taken from the performances of the players during the Elite League, and as such selectors are going to have their hands full when making the final cut.
"I thought there were a lot of positives. It is not what I would love to see but guess what? There are a heap of positives for me and the selectors to say 'Yes, give them some more time to work on it and get the team together,' " Francis said.
"It [selecting the team] is difficult in some areas, definitely, because we see some talent out there fighting for one and two positions. Too many players are playing extremely well but it really is about how the coaches are going to use the talent â€” and I am really happy that we got this tournament [the Elite League] to give the girls some quality playing time.
"Like I said, I wish it [the Elite League] could have been a little bit longer but it wasn't. It is what it is, and we just have to get our squad together and start the work," Francis ended.