Jamaican defender enjoying NZ - February 14, 2018
She’s tall, super talented and hails from the isle of Jamaica but don’t go comparing Malysha Kelly.
The 1.85m defender will be the second Jamaican international to suit up for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, following in the footsteps of her close friend Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who spent the past five years with the franchise.
“I’m definitely my own person. She (Fowler-Reid) is a superstar and I appreciate the fact that she’s really paved the way for us girls to play internationally but I’m not putting pressure on myself to be like Jae - I’m just taking it one step at a time and just being me,” she said.
Aiming to inject a distinctive flair into the Steel ranks, Kelly has set herself some big goals for 2018.
“I’m definitely looking forward to being the person that I’ve always meant to be. I’ve always struggled with inconsistency but with this team, which I watched last year because I was following Jhaniele, it was quite consistent and I was very impressed by that,” she said.
“I hope that being here I will be able to actually achieve that as well and bring in something different in terms of how I play - not taking away from what I have been learning but just adding to it and giving the team something unique.”
She’s eager to build new partnerships with the defence trio of Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Abby Erwood and Wendy Frew.
“I’ve always watched New Zealand and how they play the game. The style is one I’ve always wanted to learn because they’re so in sync.”
After arriving in January, Kelly was immediately thrust into pre-season preparation.
“We did jump into training. Personally, I do fear some of the training sessions but so far it’s been really good. It is quite different in terms of the skill work - it’s quite intense.”
Relocating across the globe to Invercargill didn’t faze Kelly who already felt a connection to the city - she was also team-mates with former Steel captain Liana Leota in Manchester while competing in the UK Superleague.
“I was really looking forward to coming here and it’s been great so far,” she said.
“This is my first time in Invercargill and the culture and the environment is quite different. I’ve been well taken care of - kudos to Wendy Frew - and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of it.”
She’s already ticked off several new experiences, including time spent in “beautiful” Te Anau.
“I’ve been on boat rides before but I’ve never been on the biscuit or tried water skiing so that was really fun.”
A stalwart of the Jamaican squad since 2008, Kelly competed at the 2011 Netball World Championships and has a bronze medal from the 2014 Commonwealth Games to her credit. She’s no stranger to plying her netball trade globally, representing the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia’s Suncorp Super League last season.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games remains a priority and Kelly will link with her Jamaican team-mates in March for the Taini Jamison Trophy, which also features the Silver Ferns, Malawi Queens and Fiji Pearls.
“For me switching to another campaign is quite challenging but it is something that I’m willing to take on.
“Jamaica isn’t a big country like New Zealand, Australia or England, so every training session that we have, we always train together. But this year we have nine players who are actually playing away and then we will meet up so it should be quite interesting to see how it plays out.
“Now I’m with the Steel we are doing more foundation training so it will be difficult to get back into game mode.”
She rated Jamaica’s chances at the Games, particularly with so many of its key players benefiting from playing in the world’s toughest domestic leagues.
“I think we do have a good shot. We have a really good bunch of girls and a strong comradery. We’re friends on and off the court and we have some real talent within our players.
“We do think that now that we’re exposed to other things we definitely do things differently and we do have confidence in that.
“When I went back to Jamaica you can see a difference in people and how they approach training … they take on board what we say and what we’ve learned.”