The final roster has been set for the Cayman Islands Under-21 national netball team.
Martika Williams, 20, will serve as team captain with Brittany Mobley, 19, serving as vice-captain. Twelve girls are on the squad, with the others being: Alexis Carias, Kimberly David, Terry-Ann Hunter, Noviann McLean, Olivia Samuels, Charlotte Shepheard, Roxanne Walton, Sheynae Watson, Aaliyah Webb and Rosemarie Wilson.
National coach and technical director for Cayman netball Gillian Lee said those girls earned their spots on the team.
“Why did those girls make the cut? Their understanding of the game and ease at learning new tactics,” Lee said. “They all show leadership on and off the court. The last 12 months I’ve been trying to teach the girls about leadership. We still need to be verbalising plays but they got their heads around that and they’re doing well.
“As for the captains, Martika and Brittany are players that certainly know and read the game. On and off the court, they have the respect of all the other players and they are willing to speak out for other players who are very quiet.”
In addition to Lee, the coaching staff sees Nicola Williams as assistant coach with Andrea Singh and Adena Miller as team managers.
All of the girls took part in this year’s Cayman Islands Netball Association Open League, with most having featured in the competition in years past. Wilson, 17, is one of the veterans of the group, having previously played on a national stage and will steady the offensive grouping of Hunter, Webb and Carias.
Williams and Mobley are also no strangers to the sport, having excelled for Rising Stars and All Stars netball clubs, respectively. Williams leads the defence, which features McLean, Walton and Samuels. Mobley guides the centre court players, who are Shepheard, David and Watson.
The girls are expected to leave Cayman next Saturday, 17 August, for Glasgow, Scotland. There they will play in the World Youth Netball Championships on 22-31 August. The world championships take place every four years, with the last event in the Cook Islands in 2009. Australia, the reigning champion, are among 20 countries that will be participating this year.
The finalisation of the team roster has been embraced by the netball community. Among those in favour of the line-up is Avril Myers, a local player now based in Jamaica for school.
“I’m ecstatic to finally see netball excelling in Cayman,” Myers said. “We have been active on the local scene for many years but not on the international platform. When I came home last Christmas from college, I had the opportunity to watch these young ladies train, as I could only watch from the sidelines as I was waiting on a clearance from my orthopaedic doctor to play.
“I was shocked to see these girls play. The level of skills and competitiveness that these girls have developed over that short period of time was impressive. But for a competition of this calibre, being physically prepared is not enough.
“Being mentally prepared is vital and this is where I’m expecting the older players on the team like Roxanne, Sheynae, Martika and Rosie to really stand out and take charge, off and on the court.”
Myers, 20, is attending the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports in Spanish Town, St. Catherine. The Bodden Town native is pursuing a bachelors degree with the goal of eventually becoming a sports coach in Cayman. The daughter of Bridget Myers admits her progression has been slowed by injury.
“Because of injuries, I was forced to stop school for awhile. I recently had to undergo surgery on my knee, having an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] reconstruction done. So at the moment, I’m in the initial stages of rehab, learning to walk again and getting my leg healthy again so I can return to playing sports.”
The U21 team are doing their final training sessions at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. The side took on a select squad, featuring male players, on Thursday and will be in action again next Tuesday, 13 August.