U-21 girls confident in defence

Defence figures to be Cayman’s calling card in Scotland.

After Tuesday’s final training session for the Cayman Islands Under-21 netball team, players and officials agreed that slowing down the opposition will keep Cayman competitive at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow next week.

Team captain Martika Williams, 20, said she has few worries ahead of Cayman’s inaugural appearance at the competition.

“Tuesday’s session went well, some things need to be settled,” Williams said. “When we get there, they should be better. The defence is very strong, our centre court is strong too and the shooters are good. Am I worried about playing? Not at all. It’s a good experience for the team to play abroad.”

Williams is one of 12 girls representing Cayman. The others are: Alexis Carias, Kimberly David, Terry-Ann Hunter, Noviann McLean, Brittany Mobley (vice-captain), Olivia Samuels, Charlotte Shepheard, Roxanne Walton, Sheynae Watson, Aaliyah Webb and Rosemarie Wilson.

Guiding the girls will be national coach Gillian Lee, assistant coaches Nicola Williams and Lyneth Monteith, team managers Andrea Singh and Adena Miller and delegates Lucille Seymour and Norma Ferryman. Seymour serves as president of the Cayman Islands Netball Association with Monteith and Ferryman listed as vice presidents.

Cayman’s defence will feature Williams, McLean, Walton and Samuels. Mobley guides the centre court contingent of Shepheard, David and Watson. Mobley, 19, said a potential concern for Cayman in all phases of the game will be height disparity.

“Tuesday went well, though a short warm-up did affect us a little,” Mobley said. “It was hard, good preparation. I’m confident in the defence for sure. They will put in the work no matter what.

“We’re one of the smallest teams there and coach Gill has given us tactics to deal with our opponents’ height. We intend to work around our deficiencies. Personally, my skills have definitely improved since I started this process. I have the passion and I’m going in confident.”

On Tuesday, the local girls faced a select side featuring veteran players like Lavern Ebanks, Merta Day, Katherine Maw and Tashena Parks. Wilson, 17, is one of the veterans of the national team, having previously played in international competitions and will steady the offensive grouping of Hunter, Webb and Carias. She said the biggest issue in training was a lack of communication.

“It has gone well, the team’s been training a lot,” Wilson said. “We’re communicating more now. That was one of our problems in the beginning: for us to talk more on the court. We just have to stick to the game plans now.”

The world championships take place 22-31 August and occur every four years, with the last event in the Cook Islands in 2009. Australia, the reigning champions, Barbados and Bermuda are among 20 countries participating this year.

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.

Cayman’s first game is next Thursday, 22 August, against Scotland. From there, the local girls play: Jamaica on 25 August, Wales on 26 August and Samoa on 27 August before the play-offs start on 28 August. Cayman leaves for Glasgow on Saturday, 17 August and will play practice games against Singapore and Israel in the coming days.

Miller said, on the whole, the girls are ready for Scottish opposition.

“They’re as ready as they can be, there’s nothing more they can do,” Miller said. “The shooters need a little more practice but I feel they will be spot on. Cayman is one of the shortest teams there but if we stick to the game plan, we will be a force to be reckoned with. We’ll give them a run.”

The girls have had corporate backing from the likes of Saxon MG, Deutsche Bank and Greenlight RE. Saxon CEO Brian Williams said the company is happy to support local sports.

“Saxon is pleased to provide travel insurance for the U-21 netball team as they take on the world,” Williams said. “It’s wonderful that we have organisations such as the netball association to develop talent in our youth, allowing them to join in international competitions such as this.

“We are very proud of all the young ladies and wish them the best of luck in their games and hope they enjoy their trip to Scotland.“