Women’s netball has been a knockout this year.
With tight games and star players in abundance there’s been plenty to rave about on the courts.
Yet it all is not fading away just yet.
This week the Cayman Islands Netball Association announced the start of its inaugural CINA Knockout competition.
The competition got underway last night when Butlers All-Stars battled Rawlinson and Hunter while Storm Quik Cash A did battle with its division two counterparts [Storm Quik Cash B].
Those matches were held on the netball courts at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex at 6:30pm.
All of the squads from the senior women’s open league in both divisions are competing.
The tournament runs in three stages. Group play in the competition runs until 26 March.
The playoffs then get underway 28 March and pauses briefly on 4 April to allow for the Easter holidays and the annual U16 tournament in Jamaica 22-30 April.
From there the KO competition culminates with the finals on 9 May.
CINA Treasurer Lyneth Monteith explained the significance of the upcoming competition.
‘In previous years we had just one league. This year we’re doing something different. The open league represents the final results for the senior women and the KO is a completely different tournament. Similar to how CIFA has different competitions such as the Digicel Knockout tournament and FA Cup.
‘Our KO competition provides more games to the girls and allows them to get more play in. It’s all about building up netball locally and progressing to international competitions.’
Monteith went on to discuss how the other netball competitions during the year fit in with the KO.
‘The KO doesn’t affect the open league results. By year’s end we’ll have a winner of the open league and a winner in the KO competition. One doesn’t influence the other.
‘After the KO is over play doesn’t resume in the senior open league until October. How it works is the mixed league starts back again in August and finishes in October/November just before the open league starts.’
Netball is not the only sport recently to set-up more games for its players. Women’s basketball had a need for more games and addressed it with the Women’s Cup tournament this month [which wrapped up last Sunday].
With the KO games coming less than a week after the open league final it’s not a stretch to wonder if fatigue will be a factor.
But for Monteith tiredness is a non-issue.
‘Fitness is not an issue for us. The more you play the fitter you become. In addition more games lead to better play and preparation. The girls certainly aren’t opposed to extended playing time and keeping their skills sharp.
‘Besides once the ladies play now there’ll always be time to recuperate later.’
With the way Storm Quik Cash dominated division one and Maples and Calder edged out a victory in division two there’s sure to be a lot revenge brewing in the minds of teams.
In Monteith’s mind those feelings only fuel the competition more.
‘There’s a lot of motivation for the teams. Players are thinking ‘I didn’t win the open league but I can win the KO.’ The thing is all the match-ups were selected in a random draw so the games are pure chance. Things should be interesting and tense because one loss and you’re essentially done.’
Among the squads burning for a match is Butler Properties All Stars. The squad lost in a double-overtime nail-biter to Roma in the division one semi-finals of the open league.
Butler was second during the regular season while Roma was third.
Monteith, who plays centre for All-Stars, was coy about what her team has planned for the KO.
‘The final wasn’t nearly as intense as our semi-final in which we happened to get beat by Roma. The game went down to the wire so it was really anyone’s game. We know what we have to work on so we’re ok. We’re back and that’s all I’m going to say.’
In the end Monteith feels local netball is in a good place right now.
‘This year has been really good thus far. We’ve seen renewed interest in netball. Teams were quite motivated, which speaks to the good future of netball going forward. The high standards seen in the adults and juniors bode well for Cayman netball.’