The next generation of Sunshine Girls and Umpires graduated on Saturday at the Scotia Bank's Sports Club in Kingston. Sixteen netballers in the Scotia Bank's development programme who form the Under 14 squad graduated. In time, they will move on to the Under 16 and Under 21 squads and eventually to the Sunshine Girls senior squad. Nine junior umpires also graduated inclusive of eight females and one male, making it the largest group to graduate at the same time.
The netballers who graduated are Astia Brooks, Zaudi Green, Serena Harrison, Akeelia Henry, Ashley Heslop, Michalia Linton, Judene Mattie, Gabrielle Morgan, Shimona Nelson, Amanda Palmer, Amanda Pickney, Shenessa Ragbeer, Danielle Steele, Jahnel Todd, Zauria Watson and Latanya Wilson.
Among the graduating junior umpire are Jennelle Jones, Kathrina Simpson, Audrey Green, Nadine Ashbourne, Shemelia Grindley, Shanice Daley, Kadie-Ann Duhaney and Trishana Hanson, while the sole male is Ricardo Webley. Duhaney currently plays for the Clarendon Gaters in the Berger Elite League, and Hanson turns out for Manchester Spurs and is also in the Sunshine Girls squad in training for the Netball World Cup later this year.
The guest speaker, Sunshine Girl Malysha Kelly encouraged the young netballers and junior umpires to "raise the bar higher as they look to their future in the sport." She used her experience as a Sunshine Girl with it success and 'failures' to show that only good can come out of their commitment to the sport.
Jennelle Jones, one of the junior umpire graduates was glowing in her praise of Netball Jamaica, the sponsor Scotia Bank and the coaches who conducted the training. She said that the graduates appreciated the opportunity to learn a skill which will improve the sport and their lives. She noted that Jamaica had world class rated umpires and that some of the graduates looked forward to their time at that level.
Shelly Sykes-Coley, manager for sponsorships at Scotia Bank congratulated Netball Jamaica for their on-going training of people who will in time keep the sport at the highest level in the world. She singled out current Sunshine Girls Vangelee Williams, Nicole Dixon, Adean Thomas, Khadijah Williams, Shanice Beckford and Thristina Harwood who had come through the programmes since they began sponsoring them in 2007. Additionally, she mentioned junior umpire Pricialla Thomas who officiated in the Birmingham Series in England. She encouraged the graduates not to squander the investment in their development.
Netball Jamaica's president Marva Bernard said that in light of Jamaica's high ranking in the netball word, it had to continue to train netballers and umpires to take up the mantle at the senior level to keep the legacy going. She said that Netball Jamaica was committed to the continuous training of persons in the sport.