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Babb’s vision

Justin Marville

Babb’s vision

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NETBALL’S RESIDENT SOOTHSAYER is back in his crystal ball again.
Senior national head coach Alwyn Babb has announced his return to the top post with another lofty prediction, foreseeing a historic fifth or sixth place finish for Barbados at this year’s World Championships.
The recently rehired coach turned fortune teller said his charges had no plan on coming any worse than sixth after receiving a second successive Coach Of The Year award at last weekend’s National Sports Awards ceremony.
“We’re in a draw where we can finish in the top five or six in the world and when you have that advantage you don’t turn your back on it,” said Babb in a candid interview with NATIONSPORT.
It’s the third such bold prediction Babb has made within the last four months, after he correctly forecast that his senior squad would get a best ever seventh place at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
This came before Babb said Barbados would finally upend the third-ranked Sunshine Girls at the upcoming Tri-Nation series in Jamaica, which is slated to feature rivals Trinidad.
“We’re going to be practising towards winning that Tri-Nation [but] we’ve seen Jamaica getting some good match practice [against Australia] and you don’t beat that [type of practice],” Babb reasoned.
“But I’m hoping that the national association can arrange that type of training prior to us participating and if we can do that, even if we can get close at this point in time it will be good preparation for the World tournament.”
However, surpassing Barbados’ highest ranking might take more than the powers of a prophetic coach.
The tenth-ranked Bajans are grouped with the world’s third best side, England, and the seventh-seeded Malawi in Group D.
It means Barbados will have to beat at least one of those teams ranked ahead of them, if not both, just to advance to the quarter-finals.
Then there is a possible meeting with Australia, New Zealand or Jamaica.
“I’m going to be watching the tapes of those games between Australia and Jamaica,” said Babb of the just concluded series between two of the top four nations.
“I’m going to see where the loopholes are, I’m going to see how our Barbados team can expose those loopholes and we’re looking forward to playing against them.”
A renowned athletics trainer, Babb was honoured with his third Coach-Of-The-Year Award in four years, but first with netball, having led Barbados to its best ever finish at the Commonwealth Games in October.
But Babb resigned just two months later when former vice-president Juanita Cordle was elevated to the governing body’s top spot during December’s general elections.
Babb has since been rehired with the netball association heeding the request of the players and the coaching advisory committee to return the second-year coach.
“I respect the young ladies who play for Barbados a great deal and because of their prompting I’m back here to see what we can do in terms of the World Championships,” said Babb of his decision to return.
“I try to keep the politics away from the team and I’m just looking forward to getting them concentrating on their various positions, doing what they have to do and let us as the administrators deal with the little instances of conflict.”