Rookies must thrust us forward

As the Cayman Islands chase regional darts glory, much of the focus will be on new players.

Cayman sports three rookies on its national team at the 2012 Caribbean Championships in Belize in Nethina Ebanks, Jasper Esguerra and Norrin Stewart. All will be under the watchful eyes of team manager Cassius Anglin, head coach Eddie Ballantyne and team captain Paul Anglin.

Cassius states the newcomers are expected to do well.

“Norrin is one of the newcomers who is a great addition,” Cassius said. “The addition of Jasper will be well-noted and Nethina is our rookie who can hold her own and do well at a major tournament for the first time.

“Even though the top players are missing, we still retain guys like Hank Ebanks and the talented Mel Tagalog. Eddie, Paul and Mel are great players and will represent well. The guys are looking forward to this.”

The competition began in Belize City, at the Biltmore Plaza, last Friday with the sixth annual World Darts Federation Americas Cup. Cayman would lose in the opening stages of that event to Trinidad and Tobago, by a score of 13-0. The US would emerge the winners, beating out Canada.

Paul, who serves as the Cayman Islands Darts Association president, states in spite of the early results the rookies have the ability to push Cayman to success.

“Don’t count no one out, anything can happen if you have a good day and throw good darts,” Paul said. “They have the confidence and focus. They can do it. We got three darts and our opponents got three darts. All I can say is bring it on.”

In addition to Cassius, Eddie, Paul and the rookies, the Cayman team consists of Hank Ebanks, Carol Johnson, Neville Parker, Miriam Rodriguez, Mel Tagalog and Michelle Terry. All are focusing on the 19th annual Caribbean Cup event, which runs until Monday, 30 July.

Cayman is going up against some nine squads in the Bahamas, Barbados, host Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Florida, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

Of the three rookies for Cayman, Esguerra is the most accomplished, having won the Mickey Mouse tournament during Pirates Week last year. Stewart is a relative unknown while Ebanks is new to the sport, having just started to target a bull’s-eye in the last seven weeks.

“I started on the darts scene here in May with the national team trials,” Ebanks said. “Being the rookie, I feel like I’m on the best team. As a beginner, I’m kind of intimidated by the big names but I feel like a seed starting to blossom in a garden. I’m excited and I feel I’m part of a well put together team.”

Cayman has enjoyed recent success at the Caribbean Championships. In 2010, Cayman placed fourth overall in Abaco, Bahamas, matching their best finish from 2008 in Trinidad. Cassius states his squad will be pushed to reach similar heights in 2012.

“It will be hard, we’re all dedicated players and have trained hard with the little time we’ve been together. I’m sure we’ll hold our own and do well. The team is striving to do their best.”