Wellington (AFP) - Jamaica’s netball team called up a 54-year-old, a local nurse and a recent mum for Wednesday’s clash against New Zealand after visa delays left the “Sunshine Girls” struggling for players.
Five of an intended 12-strong selection failed to arrive in New Zealand because of immigration problems, prompting a week-long scramble to find eligible players.
Seven players take to the court in netball, but squads of 10 are required for an official Test match.
Head coach Connie Francis, fearing an embarrassing forfeit, issued an SOS to former players, prompting two Australian-based veterans to come forward.
Given the high-intensity nature of the sport, both will hope they spend the two-match series between the world’s second- and third-ranked sides on the reserves bench only.
Carla Borrego, 38, last played top netball in 2016 and will take a week’s leave from nursing.
Romelda Aiken-George, 33, gave birth to her first child about six weeks ago.
With one more place to fill, former Sunshine Girls star-turned-coach Francis declared she would wear her country’s bib again, the first time since her playing career appeared to have ended in 2003.
The rag-tag nature of Jamaica’s team and revamped scheduling has not amused netball officials.
Netball New Zealand complained it will take a financial hit, prompting their opponents to issue an apologetic statement.
“This situation is very unusual and not desirable,” said Netball Jamaica president Tricia Robinson.
“But we believe that we must honour our obligations. The coaches and the players have been advised of the challenges and are on board to give their best, even if they have to play without reserves.”