Reigning two-time league MVP Jhaniele fowler headlines a quartet of Jamaican netballers who have elected to stay together in Australia and see out the suspension of the Suncorp Super League during the coronavirus pandemic as a result of the growing uncertainties of international travel and the risk of becoming stranded.
The decision comes off the back of Fowler’s team, West Coast Fever, being unable to reschedule a flight for her family from Jamaica to Perth prior to the closing of Australia’s national borders.
Fowler, who led the Fever to the championship decider in 2018, has been joined by Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Melbourne Vixens) and Jodi-Ann Ward (Magpies Netball).
Remaining in Australia was tough for the athletes, knowing that their friends and family were more than 16,000 kilometres away but the Jamaican quartet are hoping to remain connected and create a home away from home during the unfolding coronavirus crisis.
Netball Western Australia Chief Executive, Simon Taylor said the athletes were flown in yesterday (Monday) to make sure they had a sense of community given their trying circumstances.
“What we have done is worked with the other clubs who have got Jamaicans and brought them here to Perth,” he said.
Netball South Australia CEO Bronwyn Klei also shared how important is it for the players to unite and lift each other up during this challenging time.
“We’re devastated for Shammy that she’s unable to return home to Jamaica, but we’re so pleased she will be able to find comfort in staying with Jhanielle, Kadie-Ann and Jodi-Ann,” Klei said.
With regular training schedules also suspended, clubs will be exploring alternative approaches with athletes to ensure they are healthy and fit once the season resumes.
The Suncorp Super Netball League was on Monday suspended as part of wider efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of fans, athletes, staff and the broader community.
The 2020 season was scheduled to tip off on May 2 but has been deferred and will not commence prior to June 30.
The Suncorp Super Netball League Commission (SNLC) says it will review the situation before the end of May and based on the latest medical advice and government regulation, determine whether the start date should be extended even further.