AS the national under-16 netball teams prepare for the upcoming Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball tournament in Dominica, Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe has told them to make themselves and their country proud.
She paid a courtesy call to the team and its technical staff at City Hall, Port of Spain on Wednesday afternoon.
The competition was on hiatus for the past two years due to the covid19 pandemic. This year, it will be held from March 24-30.
In early March, the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) presented the TT Netball Association (TTNA) with support in the amount of $48,600.
Cudjoe said she is “happy to see netball being restored to its former glory.”
While she understands the sport has been going through some “tough times,” she said it is great to see both youth and senior teams being passionate about the sport. She also applauded the athletes for balancing their academics and sport. She asked how many of the athletes were leaving TT or flying on a plane for the first time and some of them raised their hands.
She said oftentimes, those involved in sports culture get their first opportunity to leave the country through these disciplines, and she was glad they will now get that experience that “we often take for granted. “Sport has so much to offer as it relates to your personal, professional, holistic development.”
She praised the athletes for making the team, being focused and “choosing to do something positive with (their) time.”
Many of the athletes also heaped praises on Cudjoe, saying none of this would have been possible without her. “There are many young girls who want to be where you are right now – making the national team...getting this opportunity to leave the country to fly the flag off TT high.” She said the government remains committed to providing the necessary funding for sports to thrive. “I’m sure your parents are very proud of you. I want you to feel proud of yourselves. We are very proud of you.”
She thanked members of the technical staff for giving up their time and personal priorities to ensure the athletes do well.
But she urged the athletes, “Let respect be the order of the day.
“When you go out there to represent TT, you’re not only representing the other netballers who didn’t make it, you’re representing all of us. “When people see how you behave and how you carry yourself, they get an idea as to what the Tobagonian is, what the Trinidadian is...so you’re out there representing you, your family, your community, your school...You’re representing me. I’m counting on you to represent me with distinction.”
TTNA president Sherry-Ann Blackburn said it was a privilege and honour for TT to be participating in the competition and thanked Cudjoe for taking the necessary steps to make that a reality.
“We understand the challenges that happen behind the scenes, and you with your office did all that was needful.”
Team captain Patryce Ashby, who plays wing attack, said she is very proud “that I was chosen to lead this wonderful team.”
Asked what her goals are for herself and the team at the competition, she said, “To win. It have no coming second. (The goal is) to win.”