Coaches confident in U21 progress

Gillian Lee is not the only mentor for Cayman’s top youth netball talent.

The Cayman Islands national coach and technical director for netball has Nicola Williams and Lyneth Monteith as part of the coaching staff for the Under-21 national team. Both Williams and Monteith, the side’s assistant coaches, oversaw the squad’s latest training sessions this month that featured matches in a tournament-style set-up.

Williams said the girls are ready for overseas competition and only need more self-confidence.

“They are very talented and have been working very hard to get themselves physically, mentally and emotionally ready,” Williams said. “You can never be too ready because as an athlete in any sport, you are always wondering if there was more you could have done. The same goes towards coaching, questioning if there was more you could have helped them with.

“But the girls are ready, it’s just up to them to start seeing and believing that they are ready. They just need to put all they have been taught into their games.”

Cayman is preparing to compete in the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on 22-31 August. The world championships take place every four years with the last event on the Cook Islands in 2009. Australia, the reigning champion, are among 20 countries that will be participating this year.

Two weeks ago, the national team staged training sessions against Rising Stars, All Stars and a select side at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex netball courts. Among the standouts participating were Katherine Maw and Tashena Parks of All Stars A, the two-time reigning Cayman Islands champions. There were also male players who aided the training such as Courtney Wisdom and Richard Allen.

Monteith said those contests showed the national team has some fine-tuning to do.

“We have a month to go and the team is progressing towards being game-ready for the competition,” Monteith said. “We are honing our attacking and defensive skills and player fitness at present, which are the fundamentals of the game.

“The team is made up of very talented young netballers, each with their own individual skill levels. All of the players who have made the squad have demonstrated the skills required, which are being honed daily.”

Cayman has 15 girls on its roster, with 12 expected to make the trip. The roster consists of Alexis Carias, Kimberly David, Terry-Ann Hunter, Renee Lindo, Noviann McLean, Brittany Mobley, Hailee Robinson, Olivia Samuels, Charlotte Shepheard, Alexia Walton, Roxanne Walton, Sheynae Watson, Aaliyah Webb, Martika Williams and Rosemarie Wilson.

The girls have been training under Gillian Lee since last September and have engaged in fundraising drives to help cover expenses related to the Scotland trip.

An interesting side note is that both Nicola Williams and Monteith are members of All Stars netball club, which recently saw its A and B teams dominate the Cayman Islands Netball Association 2013 Open League. A number of All Stars players are part of the national team such as Hunter, McLean and Mobley.

Williams said their involvement speaks to the quality of the club.

“Well, to have any of All Stars young players like Terry-Ann, Brittany and Noviann selected is an honour and a testament to their hard work. It can only help to attract more young players to All Stars.

“It is a privilege given to me by the association to work with the young talent of the Island and being able to impart the knowledge I have from the late Mrs. Jean Pierre and also my international exposure representing my country.

“What do they need to improve? I would say defence – our girls will be some of the shortest players going into the competition but their defence as a team will help them in this regard.

“I would also add that we are in need of much needed financial support and are really calling on the private sector to step forward and assist these young girls to truly fulfil their dream of representing their country. They cannot do it without that much needed financial support. At the same time, we thank those persons who have already assisted in 
any way.”