Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | October 13, 2009
Home : Sport
'We're no longer the bronze queens'
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) president, Marva Bernard (right), removes travel documents from the bag of Sunshine Girl Nichala Gibson, while other members of the Jamaica team stand in the background, inside the VIP Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Jamaica's Sunshine Girls got prime-time attention upon their return to the island yesterday afternoon, following their historic silver-medal finish at the World Netball Series Fast Net championships in Manchester, England.

The girls, along with members of the management team, arrived with shiny medals draped around their necks and were whisked away to the VIP lounge shortly after touchdown at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), where they were greeted by government officials, sponsors and media personalities.

It was a reception that was relished by the team, and president of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA), Marva Bernard, underlined the heightened prestige of the sport in local circles, citing it was well-deserved recognition.

Efforts praised

Said Bernard: "I know we have done well. Every time we step on the court, we do well and girls, finally we are here and there is a huge press conference to meet us. You know we are not just going through the side door this time."

She also praised the efforts of the team, which upon reaching the finals attained the country's best ever position at the senior level.

The team was at one point struggling at the bottom of the six-nation table in the preliminary round, but rallied to defeat the previously unbeaten England team in the semi-finals before losing closely to New Zealand in the finals.

"We are no longer the bronze queens, we are silver medallists in this new competition that the International Federation of Netball Associations has instituted," Bernard beamed.

Coach Connie Francis took time out to pay homage to the supporters of the team.

Francis said, "I must thank all the people who support us because these girls have worked extremely hard and they went out and did their best, hence we won the silver medal and I am very proud of them."

Team lauded

Senator Warren Newby, who represented Sports Minister Olivia Grange, who is off the island on official business, lauded the team's performance and identified them as a source of great pride and motivation for Jamaicans.

"Your performance serves to reinforce the good values and attitudes of the Jamaican people and I want to say heartiest congratulations to you all," said Newby. "This historic performance is etched in the memories of Jamaicans and must be celebrated and honoured."

He added: "... Every time that Jamaica finds itself in economic restraint, the athletes of this country reach out on the world stage to remind our people of that which is inherently Jamaican; we can do better and we can survive if we stick to it."

The delegation spent the rest of the afternoon at Vale Royal, where they were the special guests of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

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