Alexis Carias feels Cayman netball can grab more positive headlines overseas. Carias, 16, is a member of the national women’s team and has been playing netball since grade four of primary school. She is one of the few squad members to have international experience, competing for Cayman’s national Under-21 team at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland. With another tournament in Calgary, Canada, next month, Carias says her goal is to play beyond her years.
“As one of the youngest player that went to Scotland, I am very honored to now have been given the opportunity for a senior national team with more experienced and skillful players,” Carias said. “I will once again be one of the youngest and I am learning and developing not only as a sports person, but also as a young woman.”
The Cayman Islands Netball Association is preparing its top ladies for the 2014 American Federation of Netball Associations Championship on Aug. 19-29. The Calgary tournament 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.
Cayman is looking to catch up with its Caribbean neighbors. Jamaica is fourth in the world, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are ninth and 10th, 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.
Carias is among 13 girls on the roster: Carrie Barnett-Carter, Marsha Campbell, Kayon Clarke, Katherine Gow, Nickesha Lynch, Tashena Parks, Nicola Pringle, Karen Smith-James, Keren Watson, Aaliyah Webb, Rosemarie Wilson and Teneisha Wilson. The group has been training since January.
Carias says she expects the Cayman team to rise to the occasion.
“When you play at an international level, you see a whole different level of netball with the speed and tactics. I look forward to seeing the best of the best out there representing their country. I am expecting our team to qualify for the world championship. I expect to just go out there and play to the best of my ability when given the chance and support my other team mates the best that I can.”
This is the first women’s team Cayman has fielded at an overseas event in years. While the ladies have significant local experience, few have competed on the international level, with Webb and Rosemarie Wilson joining Carias on the Under-21 team last year. Funding has been an issue for the Canada trip as the association needed a total of $60,000 and struggled to raise over half of that sum in the past few months.
Carias, listed at 5-feet, 7-inches, brings versatility to the Cayman attack. The Rising Stars netball club member has played goal shooter, goal attack and wing attack since joining the squad in 2008. For Carias, playing internationally is a welcome change to her club commitments.
“Scotland was a fantastic experience. I am more than happy to make the national squad traveling to Calgary because it will be a pleasure to represent my country at the national level again playing a sport that I love.”