Generally speaking, a new team with many young players would be seen as an underdog in sports. However a local netball team is coming into this weekend as a favourite to claim hardware.
Roma B face All Stars B at 6.15pm on Saturday 14 May. The match, which takes place at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex netball courts, serves as the consolation final for the 2011 open league put on by the Cayman Islands Netball Association.
Roma come into the match after finishing fifth in the regular season at 4-4. The side then went on to down Unity A 24-15 in last month’s semi-final contest. Their progress is surprising considering the team was newly formed for 2011 and loaded with under-21 talent. Team manager Stacy-Ann Dehaney feels the side has many positives heading into Saturday.
“This is their first season together and they can only get better,” Dehaney said. “Anissa Owen, as the captain, is the person with the most composure. I don’t mean to single out anyone to make the other girls feel a way but she is the best player and we will need her to carry the team. She came over from Storm (netball club) with Avril Myers and initially I wanted them on the A team. They ended up on the B team because that is what they requested.
“On the whole the team has played well, especially since they didn’t train for awhile. I expected their semi-final to be close. Though Unity didn’t win much games they’re still an A team. They have ladies that can play to a certain level and have lots of experience.”
The team’s assistant coach Nicola Pringle, who plays for Roma A alongside Dehaney, states the B squad can only improve with experience.
“I assist with coaching alongside Stacy-Ann Dehaney,” Pringle said. “The head coach is Carrie Barnett as she put the team together. I’m confident the youth can win their group. They have two of the top defenders in Anissa Owen and Saneata Smith plus Jahzenia Thomas and Kristie Hurlston have shot well. They have all played since high school so even though it’s a new squad they have gelled together.
“My only concern is that Avril recently had a leg injury and the middle may be a bit shaky as a result. But once we get help there, especially from girls like Kristie and Anissa, we can play on to a title.”
All of those players will need to step up to slow down the All Stars. Behind the likes of Whitney General, Liana Benjamin and Renee Lindo, All Stars claimed the division two title last year and were just behind Roma in the 2011 standings at 3-5 in sixth place. They booked their finals berth with a 32-12 victory over Rising Stars B last month.
One Roma supporter not worried about their opponents is club president Robert Sairsingh. The squash enthusiast states the B team has already exceeded expectations.
“We’re making small strides and progress,” Sairsingh said. “The B team has done better than expected. As a young team they’re in a good position. I’m very encouraged with the team doing so well at their young age. Once they finish the playoffs our priority will be to keep everyone together and keep them focused for next season.”