One of the allures of coed netball is seeing men taking the sport seriously.
In fact, male players had big roles in the finals for the 2013 Camana Bay Summer Mixed League, put on by the Cayman Islands Netball Association. Blazers claimed this year’s title, beating Rising Stars 21-16, thanks in large part to the performances of guys like Richard Allen and Wrendon Timothy.
Allen served as center and said his history with the team inspired his play.
“In the final, I was not at my best as I carried an injury from flag football,” Allen said. “We all felt, going in, that we had to end first and get our position back. Rising Stars beat us in last year’s finals and we didn’t want the same thing to happen again. It was in our heads all season.
“We’re very glad we claimed the No. 1 spot, everything is good in coed netball now. It’s all back where it should be with Blazers on top.”
Last week’s championship game took place at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center and saw Blazers claim the overall title. The triumph was redemption for the squad after they were unbeaten in 2012 before losing to Rising Stars in the finals.
Allen is not the lone holdover from last year as several male players returned for another season. Blazers relied on the shooting exploits of Gavin Watts and Romone Buchanan and Rising Stars were guided by versatile talents like Collin Anglin and David Taylor.
Timothy, who suited up at goal keeper and center for Blazers, said sharing the court with those guys is what keeps him coming back.
“I played last year with Blazers and I feel really good to win,” Timothy said. “We should have won last year and this year we came out stronger and played harder than before. As for a repeat, I’d say that’s a maybe.
“Personally, I’m from Trinidad and I’ve been here six years. I’m not sure I’ll be back due to the rollover. But if I’m here in Cayman, I’ll be playing again and playing for Blazers to defend our title.”
Outside of the title game, the finals showcased three other matches to decide the runners-up. Unity ended up third by defeating Mixers, 10-4, and the Ernst and Young Sunbeams, 11-5. Sunbeams finished fourth after beating Mixers, 8-7.
Unity did well this season to post a winning record, relying on the likes of veteran Ovaine Monteith, Dave Holness and Kadane Hall. Mixers had two notable male talents in Jamuel Dell and Jermaine Seymour. Sunbeams leaned on female players like Gemma Butterfield and Angela Whittaker.
Next up on the local calendar is the Appleby Netball League – Cayman’s national women’s competition – with the opening uniform parade slated for Nov. 16. Expect to see many of the top female talents from the mixed league taking part such as Tishelle Logan of Blazers, Melissa Rankine of Rising Stars, Sheree McKenzie of Unity and Louise Kitching of Sunbeams. Early focus will be on All Stars netball club, which won the top two divisions last year.