Parks pleased to target Calgary

Tashena Parks is proud that Cayman netball has aspirations for glory abroad.

Parks, 30, a member of the national women’s team, has been playing netball for more than 18 years. She says playing in Calgary, Canada, is a major feat.

“I’m so proud to be given the chance to represent the Cayman Islands,” Parks said. “Not many have been successful in making the squad, so to even be considered is a privilege and honor I am ready to carry. I want to go there and do my best by executing all that we have learned during training in order to make my team and country proud. I am also hoping that we are victorious in securing a place in qualifying for the world championship next year.”

The Cayman Islands Netball Association is preparing its top ladies for the 2014 Americas Federation of Netball Associations Championship on Aug. 19 to 25. The Calgary tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2015 World Netball Championships in Australia, with the top teams earning automatic berths.

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 18th and Bermuda is 30th. Grenada is in the process of gaining a world ranking.

Parks is among 13 girls on the roster. The others are: Carrie Barnett-Carter, Marsha Campbell, Alexis Carias, Kayon Clarke, Katherine Gow, Nickesha Lynch, Nicola Pringle, Karen Smith-James, Keren Watson, Aaliyah Webb, Rosemarie Wilson and Teneisha Wilson. The group has been training since January.

Parks says the team is focused on working together for victory.

“I’m overwhelmed to be a part of the national team and I’m ready to work with my teammates, coaches and the executive board to better Cayman’s chances in being victorious in the AFNA Championship. I’m glad to be given such an opportunity to represent the Cayman Islands, which I now call my home.”

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, Webb and Rosemarie Wilson having played on Cayman’s national Under-21 team at the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland. Funding had 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.

Parks, listed at 5-feet, 10-inches, is a versatile player. The Conyers All Stars netball club member has played goal defense, wing defense, goal attack and goal shooter over the years. Parks says her netball abilities developed from a young age in Jamaica.

“I started in primary school at age 11. I spent five years at Kens Wild Flower Sports Club, two years at Alpha “A” netball team and seven years at progressive Strikers netball club. In 2003 I was a member of the Jamaica Under-21 test team in a series against South Africa.”