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BARBADOS’ NETBALLERS must make an impact in Calgary, Canada, in August if they want to have a place at next year’s world netball championships. Speaking at the opening of the 2014 season at Combermere School Hall over the weekend, Barbados Netball Association (BNA) president Nisha Craigwell said the team were looking forward to making their presence felt at the 2014 American Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) qualifiers in Canada. This qualifying championship is open to all member countries in the Americas region who wish to qualify for the world championships in Australia. From the Calgary championship, the first two teams will participate in the world championships slated for Sydney. The following teams have been invited to the AFNA qualifiers: Argentina, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States. The AFNA Championship is held annually and contributes to the international ranking of participating countries. This is the first time that Canada have been successful in their bid to be the host nation of the AFNA Championship. The tournament in Calgary will attract international netball teams from across the Americas region encompassing North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Craigwell told scores of netballers that she was also looking forward to the new season which will attract 38 clubs, four more than last year, noting that 73 teams would be playing in the various divisions. The BNA president said that last month’s triangular series in Trinidad and Tobago, which also involved Northern Ireland, would have served as preparation for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Scotland. Matches will be held between July 24 and August 3 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre Precinct, with Barbados in Pool B alongside Australia, England, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Wales. New Zealand (Silver Ferns) and Australia (The Diamonds) have played in each of the four finals. The Silver Ferns are the defending champions. Craigwell reminded the audience that the Barbados Under-16 side, the reigning Caribbean queens, were preparing to defend their title in Antigua. That tournament is scheduled to begin in two weeks. The BNA chief said this was a milestone year with jubilee celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Caribbean netball. On the domestic front, Craigwell noted that the BNA, now in its 39th year of existence, would have a President’s Cup at stake which would be on offer to the teams in the two top divisions. One of the highlights of the night’s programme was the Lifetime Achievement Awards for umpiring that were presented to Deborah Lynch, Harriett Waithe and Kathy Harper-Hall. For entertainment value, the major showpiece was the breathtaking dance routine of “The Bajan Michael Jackson”, Charles Reece, who had everyone spellbound with his glides, moon walks and gyrations.