The Cayman Islands Under-21 netball team have a few chances left to perfect their form.
The squad is doing one last training session on home soil on Tuesday, 13 August. The team will take on a select side, featuring male players, at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre at roughly 6pm. From there, the girls are expected to leave for Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, 17 August and play two friendlies ahead of the World Youth Netball Championships on 22-31 August.
Leading the Cayman team is national coach Gillian Lee, who outlined the training schedule.
“We have a few sessions planned before we leave,” Lee said. “After last Thursday’s session, we’re looking to do training on Tuesday against select teams with Rising Stars and mixed league players like Courtney Wisdom, Richard Allen and Andre Brown. When we arrive in Scotland, we have two practice games against Singapore and Israel within our first two days there.
“The team is shaping up really well. I thank Saxon MG, who recently stepped up and got on board by providing insurance and I also thank Deutsche Bank and Greenlight RE, who are also supporting us.”
The world championships take place every four years, with the last event in the Cook Islands in 2009. Australia, the reigning champions, Barbados and Bermuda are among 20 countries that will be participating this year.
Cayman is being represented by 12 girls in: Alexis Carias, Kimberly David, Terry-Ann Hunter, Noviann McLean, Brittany Mobley (vice-captain) Olivia Samuels, Charlotte Shepheard, Roxanne Walton, Sheynae Watson, Aaliyah Webb, Martika Williams (captain) and Rosemarie Wilson. Guiding the girls will be Lee, assistant coach Nicola Williams and team managers Andrea Singh and Adena Miller.
Cayman will be facing Jamaica, Samoa, hosts Scotland and Wales in Pool C. Most of those sides have experience on this stage, with Jamaica grabbing bronze in 2009 and Wales having previously won gold. The Cayman squad, endorsed by the Cayman Islands Netball Association, is making its first appearance at this level.
The squad’s entry into the competition was accepted by the International Federation of Netball Associations, the sport’s global governing body, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cayman’s participation at the world championships has been embraced by the local netball community which includes the likes of Avril Myers. A Bodden Town native now based at G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports in Spanish Town, Jamaica, the daughter of Bridget Myers has some questions over the team’s level of preparedness.
“I am concerned about the lack of practice matches the girls had leading up to the championships,” Myers said. “This, I feel, may hurt the team in some ways because you have teams, for example, like Jamaica and England, who have been having matches from December of last year. I had the privilege of attending one of those games and those girls were on point and it was so early in the season.
“Having these practice matches gives you some exposure and helps you feel out your competition and see how they play. It allows you to see their weaknesses and strengths and in the process, you will see yours as well. So they will know what to work on as a team and make the necessary adjustments.
“I wish all the girls good luck and I want them to remember they are not only representing themselves but their country. Make Cayman proud!”
Preparation level aside, there is loads of talent on the team. All of the girls took part in this year’s netball association open league, which is basically the national women’s competition, with most having competed 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.