Caribbean teams aim to make respective marks, as Netball World Cup gets going on Friday

By July 27, 2023
(from left) Sasha Corbin of Barbados; Jamaica's Jhaniele Fowler and Shaquanda Green-Noel of Trinidad and Tobago. (from left) Sasha Corbin of Barbados; Jamaica's Jhaniele Fowler and Shaquanda Green-Noel of Trinidad and Tobago.

They may be three Caribbean Islands with different cultures and different styles of play. But what Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados all have in common, is their unflinching desire to leave an indelible mark at the Vitality Netball World Cup.

All three teams will bow into action in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday with Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls up against Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Girls squaring off against reigning champions New Zealand, while Barbados Gems, are up against England’s Roses.

The number 10-ranked Calypso Girls will be the first in action at 3:00am Jamaica time, with number two-ranked Silver Ferns expected to prove a handful for the Joel “Twiggy” Young-Strong-coached team.

And while Trinidad and Tobago boast the legacy of being the only other team to win the World Cup title, along with New Zealand and Australia in the tournament’s long history, captain Shaquanda Green-Noel is realistic about their expectations.

“I think we are very honest and realistic with what may be the end result of the game, so even though we are extremely competitive, we are just going in thinking about the small wins in terms of reducing the margin.

“The mood in the camp is a bit of excitement and nervousness, the senior players are more the ones excited to get on the court because the Netball World Cup is one of the biggest platforms to showcase our talent. The young players are a tad bit nervous, but also excited to make their Netball World Cup debut,” Green-Noel told Sportsmax.tv.

“The girls are also very prepared for what is to come, New Zealand are defending champions and we would have done research on what they have to offer and how they play, and I think it (this game) is a great way for us to test out the skills we worked on coming into the World Cup. The last time we played New Zealand, I don’t think we had a very good game, so this is a chance to improve,” she added.

Uganda and Singapore are the other two teams the Calypso Girls will face in Pool D.

Jamaica, the highest ranked Caribbean team at number four, are out to end their 16-year medal drought at the Netball World Cup, dating back to 2007, when the last won one of their three bronze medals. 

They will enter their opening Pool C contest against 15th-ranked Sri Lanka as overwhelming favourites, especially on the back of their historic silver medal-winning performance at the Commonwealth Games last year.

Still, Sunshine Girls Head coach Connie Francis is not taking their opponents lightly, as she is well aware that it will require proper execution from her team to get the job done.

Match time is 11:00 am Jamaica time.

“The ladies are mentally and physically prepared and they want to do something special at this tournament which is to win a medal. But we don’t know much about the Sri Lankans and so we don’t intend to take them lightly,” said Francis.

Though the off-court security issue in which captain Jhaniele Fowler was robbed, is cause for concern, Francis pointed out that the team remains focused on the task at hand.

“Yes, it is bad and very disappointing that has happened on a stage like this, but the ladies remain focused on what they came here to do, which is to execute well and win a medal and that starts with tomorrow’s game,” she noted.

The Sunshine Girls will also have Wales and the host nation to contend with in Pool C.

Meanwhile, number 13-ranked Barbados Gems, have drawn a tough Pool B in which they have England, Malawi and Scotland to deal with.

They open against the number three-ranked Roses at 1:00pm Jamaica time.

While getting by the Roses will take some doing, the Gems are by no means expected to play dead, especially with the addition of sisters Kadeen and Sasha Corbin, who both switched allegiance from England to represent Barbados.

Number one ranked Australia, Zimbabwe, Fiji and Tonga will contest Pool A.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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