The upcoming netball tri-series in Jamaica will serve as Trinidad and Tobago’s first step towards a welcome return to international competition since 2019.
After a two-year tournament drought owing to the pandemic, an 18-member national netball contingent charts off to Jamaica on Wednesday for the start of a tri-series featuring the Calypso Girls and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls and their men’s team.
Initially, South Africa was scheduled to compete in the tri-series but pulled out because of Jamaica’s increasing number of covid19 cases. With short notice to find a replacement, organisers employed the assistance of the country’s male team.
The last major tourney TT participated in was the Netball World Cup in England two years ago. The tri-series is therefore, a highly anticipated one for the national women’s team. Competition begins on Thursday with TT’s first match scheduled on Saturday.
TT Netball Association president Sherry-Ann Blackburn said the Calypso Girls will be using this tournament as a competitive gauge ahead of major competition next year.
“The team has been preparing and they have put in the necessary work to start this journey of reclaiming the game. What we really want to do is to begin to move TT netball once step closer to achieving success again.
“This is a first step in our journey to that. The World Cup is in 2023 and we have the Commonwealth Games next year so this will help us tremendously in giving us a playing opportunity at a high level in preparation for those upcoming competitions,” Blackburn said.
All players and staff heading to the tri-series are fully vaccinated. Members were also advised to use the five days prior to departure to isolate themselves to minimise their chances of contracting covid19 and initiating quarantine procedures in foreign countries.
The national team will be led by Australian-based pro Kalifa McCollin who plies her trade with the Collingwood Magpies in the Suncorp Super Netball League in Australia.
Several newcomers have also been named to the team and Blackburn believes the fusion of both young and senior players should augur well at the tri-series.
“The team has seen some new talent coming out of the 2019 World Cup. There are some new persons on the team but there’s a mixture of the experienced and new players. This will make the team more exciting to look forward to,” she added.
Blackman thanked the Ministry of Sport and Community Development, its minister Shamfa Cudjoe and Sport Company of TT for supporting the team’s prowess by allowing them to participate at this event.
After the tri-series, one TT player Jameela McCarthy opens a new chapter heads to England for the start of her pro career with Saracens Mavericks in the Vitality Super League in the United Kingdom for the 2022 season.
The netball president expressed elation with McCarthy’s selection and said her experience will greatly benefit the future endeavours of the Calypso Girls going forward.
“This is an excellent opportunity. Because more of our athletes are getting pro opportunities threatens the team. It provides more playing opportunity at a high level will increase the team’s capacity and its overall ability to perform credibly on the international stage,” Blackburn closed.
TT Netball Team for Jamaica Tri-Series – Kalifa McCollin (captain), Crystal-Ann George (vice-captain), Rayann Bristol, Afiya Vincent, Destiny Williams, Janeisha Cassimy, Shaquanda Greene –Noel, Oprah Douglas, Jameela McCarthy, Jeresia McEachrane, Aniecia Baptiste, Tia Bruno, Afeisha Noel
Technical Team – Althea Mc Collin (coach), Kemba Duncan (assistant coach), Ashelle Legall (manager), Jevon Foncette (physiotherapist), Demitri Villaroel (massage therapist)