Aaliyah Webb wants Cayman netball to show a united stance abroad.
Webb, 17, is a member of the national women’s team and has been playing netball for about 10 years. She says sticking together will be key in Calgary, Canada.
“I expect the continuation of the positive team camaraderie that we, as a team, have built and that we can place our country on a higher level internationally,” Webb said.
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.
Webb is among 13 girls on the roster: Carrie Barnett-Carter, Marsha Campbell, Alexis Carias, Kayon Clarke, Katherine Gow, Nickesha Lynch, Tashena Parks, Nicola Pringle, Karen Smith-James, Keren Watson, Rosemarie Wilson and Teneisha Wilson. The group has been training since January.
Webb says her teammates have had an interesting journey to this point.
“I truly enjoy the camaraderie of netball. Although it can be intense, it is also fun and very beneficial to a healthy lifestyle. Being a part of the group of players presently training has been interesting thus far. I am grateful to my coaches – Nicola Williams and Lyneth Monteith – for their interest in the program and support provided in the development of players; and to my family for their encouragement. They all have aided me well in becoming more disciplined, focused and self confident.”
This is the first women’s team Cayman has fielded at an overseas event in years. While the players have significant local experience, few have competed on the international level, with Carias and Rosemarie Wilson joining Webb on Cayman’s national Under-21 team at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland. 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.
Webb, listed at 5-feet, 7-inches, brings versatility to the Cayman attack. The Rising Stars netball club member has played goal shooter, goal attack, wing attack and wing defense since joining the squad last year. Prior to that, Webb played at the primary school level with Prospect Primary in 2004. For Webb, the Canada tournament is a chance to show the lessons she learned from Scotland.
“It will truly be an honor for me to represent my country on another international level, having previously served as a member of the Under-21 squad. I feel good that I was given a chance at my age to try out for a senior national netball team and to be able to continue my development in netball after my Under-21 training.”