Netball is getting back onto the Cayman sports scene in a big way tonight.
The netball courts at Truman Bodden Sports Complex will play host to the opening games of the 2008 Mixed League.
At 6:30pm Rawlinson and Hunter make their debut against the Unity team while All-Stars tangle with Ogiers.
Both matches will be 40 minutes long with additional breaks.
The next matches thereafter will be this Saturday as Rising Stars face off against Roma while Citi challenges First Caribbean.
Matches will feature teams with both men and women. Starting line-ups in fact are required to have two females and three males.
The league will have plenty of rules and regulations to ensure fair play. Many will focus on the involvement of male players.
Of note is the rule that states three men must be in the game at all times and they are only allowed to play goal keep, centre and goal shoot.
This year eight teams will compete for first place: All-Stars, Citi, defending champions First Caribbean Bank, Ogiers, Rawlinson and Hunter, Rising Stars, Roma and Unity.
As Lyneth Monteith, Vice President of the Cayman Islands Netball Association explains, this should be a very competitive season.
‘It will be a very exciting league. The men bring a certain flair to the game. Most have played basketball or other sports and are very athletic.’
Monteith says teams will be looking to take down First Caribbean Bank as champion.
‘First Caribbean is the defending champion and everyone is looking to knock them out.
‘It won’t be easy to beat them as their male players are tall and agile.’
This year’s league will be a mix of new and veteran teams which Monteith says will make the matches intense and unpredictable.
‘With the teams this year it’s anyone’s game. On the day it’ll be anyone’s guess who wins.’
According to Monteith the addition of more corporate teams is a positive for the league. She feels in time that the league could easily grow into a corporate one that can generate needed revenue for CINA.
The other two positives Monteith sees in the league is its interest among the youth and its impact on the netball scene.
‘Last June or May was the last time the local women played,’ Monteith said. ‘For most of the women in this league the games will serve as a warm-up for the senior women’s’ league which kicks off in November.’
For the upcoming season plans are in place to create additional competitions such as a rally, round-robin and knockout tournament.
These will serve, as Monteith says, to ‘increase netball played in Cayman as we see how much we can get in over the course of the season’.
Like all sports the future rests with the youth and for Monteith netball looks to be making good strides in that area.
‘We’ve seen a lot of younger players coming in and gaining experience from the older ones. This bodes well for the game going forward.’
Ultimately Monteith encourages the public to attend the games and witness excellent play.
‘I’d like to encourage the general public to come out and support the league. Come and see what it is happening with local netball and be prepared for an exciting game.’
For more information contact Norma Ferryman at 928-3614 after 4pm.