Ferryman: We must know our place

With two months remaining and roughly $40,000 required, local netball might fall short of Canadian dreams.

The Cayman Islands Netball Association is struggling to send a national women’s team to its first overseas competition in years. Association vice president Norma Ferryman says the biggest hurdle to participating at the 2014 American Federation of Netball Associations Championship on August 19-29 in Calgary is funding.

“For a while now, we have not traveled for an adult competition,” Ferryman said. “For a long time, we were without a coach and we were run by volunteers. All of us were – and still are – working people and as a result, we missed a lot of events in the past. We’re trying to fit into the mainstream and get a world ranking.

“We need it (the money) because government can’t subsidise all of our needs at this time. They can give assistance on some things like coaching and getting a technical director but not everything or for every trip. We’re forced to do that on our own.”

According to association secretary Onicia Mitchell, a total of $60,000 is needed to send the squad to Canada. In the past few months, approximately $22,000 has been raised through fundraising events, such as fish fries. The association is now planning a raffle on June 30 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex netball courts to make a further dent in the amount required.

The AFNA championship serves as a qualifier for the 2015 World Netball Championships in Australia, with the top teams earning automatic berths. Cayman is among the association’s member countries in the Americas region. As of last December, there were 36 countries listed on the International Netball Federation World Rankings. Australia sat No. 1, ahead of New Zealand, with England in third place.

Cayman is looking to catch up with its Caribbean neighbors. Jamaica is fourth in the world, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are ninth and tenth, respectively, St. Lucia is 15th and Bermuda is 31st. A pair of Caribbean countries are in the process of gaining a world ranking in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Local ladies have been training since January, with tryouts attracting veterans such as Kayon Clarke, Katherine Gow (nee Maw) and Rosemarie Wilson. Association president Lucille Seymour said in passing that the final 12-member roster will “be named around June 15 and definitely before the end of the month.”

A big impetus for the Canada trip is the historic performance of the national Under-21 team at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland. Cayman marked its debut at the competition by finishing 17th out of 20 countries with three wins in seven games. Ferryman says it is time to see how the adults stack up to international opponents.

“We’re trying to come up with new strategies to market the sport,” she said. “We don’t charge to come out and spectate at our games like other sports. It’s not a money-making sport because we’ve emphasized people coming and enjoying themselves.

“This will tell us our true position in the world body and how much we have to work on. It’s the same thing like with the Under-21s. They finished 17th and now we got to find out where the adults rank.”