Netball skipper pulls out
After losing key defender and vice-captain Rhe-Ann Niles through injury, the Barbados netball team suffered another body blow with the last minute withdrawal of captain Latonia Blackman yesterday.
The experienced Blackman, whose versatility has landed her in almost every position on the court, did not travel with the team which left the Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday for the World Championship Qualifiers in Canada. Blackman’s position was taken up by 17-year-old Queen’s College student Vanessa Bobb.
Bobb, who plays for Pine Hill Dairy St Barnabas, was a member of the victorious Under-16 team which captured the regional title in St Vincent in 2012.
The utility player was chosen as one of the top 12 players and she was a member of the Barbados training squad in the lead-up to last month’s Commonwealth Games.
Bobb did not make the warm-up tour to Jamaica and she did not make the final cut to Scotland.
Coach Anna Shepherd and assistant coach Sandra Bruce-Small were already in Canada attending a netball course and the team left the island yesterday with manager Vaneisha Cadogan and trainer Dennis Callender.
Cadogan said a personal emergency had prevented Blackman from travelling.
While she did not want to discount the importance of the all-rounder to the success of the team, Cadogan expressed confidence in Bobb and all of the other players’ eagerness to perform their best for Barbados.
“We have a full squad of players in training and we are confident that given the opportunity any member of that squad will step in and perform wherever needed,” said Cadogan.
Bobb expressed joy over her selection to the senior team while indicating that she wanted to learn as much as possible to be an asset to the national side in whatever role she was assigned.
Last week the training squad was asked to do a fitness test which saw some of the senior players objecting to the request having just returned from the Games in Scotland. Blackman was absent from the test which was mostly done by the junior members.
Although the players were issued with their travel documents since Tuesday, indications are that Bobb only found out that she was needed for the tour yesterday morning and the other members of the team only realised that Bobb had replaced Blackman when they assembled at the airport.
Defender Shonette Bruce was not at the airport as she was out of the island and is expected to meet up with her teammates in Canada.
A new captain will be selected in Canada.
Barbados are heavily favoured to grab one of the two spots for the World Championships in Australia in 2015. During the qualifiers they will play against the United States, Canada, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago.
Shanice Wharton, Shonica Wharton, Damisha Croney, Samantha Browne, Kizzy Marville, Jeneice Clarke, Shonette Bruce, Shanice Rock, Nikita Piggott, Sheniqua Thomas, Laurel Brown and Vanessa Bobb.