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Netballers aiming high


David Hinds

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Expectations are high as the Barbados netball team head off to compete in the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, India, next month.
A 16-member delegation will leave the island this evening for London where they will take part in a few exhibition games before joining the main Barbados contingent travelling to India for the historic games.
The Barbados team leave with one goal in mind: to improve on their 11th-place finish at the 2006 games and so move up the world rankings and prove that they are a force to be reckoned with.
National coach Alwyn Babb spoke with the WEEKEND NATION during the team’s last practice session at the Lester Vaughan Secondary School auditorium, and revealed that their competitors would be in for a surprise when they faced the Bajan lasses.
“The players have worked hard during the last few months.
“We haven’t had a full year working together, so there were a number of areas of concern in terms of consistency on attack and stifling defence. Those areas take a lot of time to get a team gelled, with girls coming from different clubs,” he said.
However, the experienced coach is happy with what he and his coaching team were able to achieve.
“All in all, I am pleased with the level of fitness and the commitment from the players who have been coming to practice and I believe once they put in the work and the commitment, we will get good results,” he said.
“We are hoping that we can spring some surprises at the Commonwealth Games because we are in a zone where there is only one team that is ranked below us; that is Papua New Guinea, and all the others are above us in terms of world ranking, so every game we win will be an upset.
“We are currently ranked at No. 11 and we want to step up the ladder at the Games, so the girls know it is just not about finishing these games, we want to climb the promotional ladder.”
Team manager Maureen Shepherd shared similar aspirations for the squad.
“I expect to see a great improvement from the tour to St Lucia during the Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) qualifiers.
“They have been working very hard and we expect really good things when they go to the Commonwealth Games, strategy-wise and so on. Once they stay focused, Barbados can improve their rating and that is where my expectations are,” said Shepherd.
She added that part of the preparations for the trip included talks by former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner about the climate, culture and playing conditions in Asia, and sports psychology lectures by Marcia Oxley.
Co-captain Laurel Browne was also upbeat.
“Training has been going very well and the majority of the girls are fit. We are hoping to finish high in the standings and improve upon our world ranking as long as we play strong, hard and competitive netball.
“We have a strong team in all areas of shooting and defence; the majority of the girls can play any position on the court and we are ready and raring to go.
“This team is more together, we are grooming, and all of us have the same expectations, that we are going out there to win.”
The Commonwealth Games will take place from October 3 to 14.

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