Local clubs learn from Baptists

Local netball squads may not have fared well against Jamaican opposition recently but they can take away much from the encounter.

This month Rising Stars netball club put on six matches in a 2011 summer netball series. The contests featured Cayman Islands Netball Association teams Roma (the 2011 national champions), Frank Hall Home Blazers (the 2010 mixed league winners), three RS sides (mixed, Under-23 and select) and a netball association select squad called Lady Diamonds.

All battled the Boulevard Baptist netball club, which claimed the 2011 division C championship in the Jamaica Netball Association. Though Boulevard won all but one match, series organizer and RS club manager Orvin Palacio states it was a beneficial competition.

“It went well as we had six games over three nights,” Palacio said. “Our RS mixed team was the only one to beat them on the first night. But the feedback overall was that it was well put together. That’s the main thing for us. The interest was there and we’re grateful we filled up the hall every night.

“The thing is we had team Maples and Calder drop out at the last minute. We checked with the other local teams and from there came a women’s select team called the Lady Diamonds. Basically it featured mostly All Stars players, some Maples girls and one or two members from the Roma teams.”

Matches during the competition took place at the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall. The games were intended to be a post-season work-out for the women’s squads and preseason practice for the mixed teams (the 2011 netball association mixed league is tentatively slated for next month).

Palacio spoke about how the local sides performed during the tournament.

“It was a good showing on the whole for the Cayman ladies. Our U23 girls were way under 23 years-old as Shanai Allen and the usual B team members made up that squad. Roma was great as usual and their match was an excellent game. Against Boulevard, because it was a champions versus champions face-off, it was the most attended. That contest stood out to me as a back and forth battle where fitness won out for Boulevard. In fact the last five minutes of the game they played keep away from Roma.

“I was expecting a better showing from the Blazers. Gavin Watts was there but only played two quarters. Veteran Cynthia Collington was not there. On the whole the Blazers were just off as a unit. The RS women’s team had a few young ones like Lexie Solomon and Rosemarie Wilson and we even had umpire Sofia Foster join us. Though the majority of the squad were from our A team, it was one-sided against Boulevard as we didn’t play on that night.”

From here RS is expected to send a youth team to compete in the Florida Netball Classic in October. Palacio admits pulling off the series, going to the Florida meet and gearing up for the mixed league is especially taxing.

“We’re training three teams all in one go and it’s hard to get everything together.”