Net gains for all

Local sports had a great year in 2009. In the face of a global and island-wide recession many disciplines made great strides for 2010 and beyond.

Two areas that saw biggest growth were a pair of the country’s focal sports in basketball and netball.

Cayman hoops saw a number of highlights, the biggest of which was the shift to indoor play at the Arts and Recreation Center on the Cayman International School campus at Camana Bay in mid July.

That move signalled a huge improvement in the sport’s profile as many competitions took place indoors (including summer men and women leagues along with the Rodney Bodden Memorial 3-on-3 and U19 league).

In addition the indoor facility attracted two foreign guests in former Orlando Magic star Nick Anderson (who helped run a hoops camp) and NCAA recruiting specialist Charles Adam (who imparted words of wisdom to those looking to play collegiate sports in the US).

A number of local youth excelled playing basketball abroad during the year. Among the more notable cases were Jorge Ebanks (with New York-based Finger Lakes Community College in the US), Jerome Graham-Record (with a US select youth team in Foligno, Italy) and Cory Thompson (with semi-pro team the Portsmouth Fury in England).

From there Cayman sent contingents to compete in tournaments abroad, most notably the 2009 NatWest Island Games in June (held in Aaland, near Finland). Cayman’s male national team placed fourth in that event, losing in the bronze medal game.

Lastly local hoops saw some surprising winners this year including the Wolves (who won the men’s league), Storm Quik Cash (the women’s league winner) and Domino’s Lady Heels (who won the inaugural Women’s Cup event).

Both Wolves and the Lady Heels fell short of double props as the Wolves came second in the U19 league and the Lady Heels came second in the women’s league.

Over in netball local competition continued steadily and saw increased growth and interest at the netball courts at Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town.

The year’s first big winner came in March when Storm Quik Cash, led by stalwart Sophia Foster, secured their third straight senior women’s league title. The squad won an all-expenses paid trip to Jamaica for their victory.

Butler Properties All Stars won the inaugural Knockout competition for the women’s league in May. The same club, who were sponsored by Guy Harvey’s Ocean Foundation, won the mixed league (which sees both men and women playing) later on in October.

Netball within the various schools went off as usual with New Horizon high going unbeaten to win the U13 section and Pace high also avoiding a loss to nab the U15 segment.

From there a number of small Cayman teams went off to compete abroad. The most notable of which was an U16 select team that went to Jamaica for the Jean Pierre U16 youth tournament (where they came sixth).

Ending the year was the annual opening uniform parade for the 2010 netball season in November. Over 15 teams and 80 spectators came out to Truman Bodden to see all of the pageantry and bright colours.

The big winners this year were George Town primary (U9), Prospect primary (U11), New Horizons high (U13), Heritage high (U15), John Gray Dynasty (U16), John Gray Cruisers (U18) and Rising Stars (adult).

With basketball keeping its focus indoors and netball keeping pace outside, 2010 looks to be one of even more growth for two of Cayman’s essential sports.