St. John’s Antigua- Fifteen of the country’s top under-23 netballers remain in training after a squad of 25 was downsized over the weekend as Antigua & Barbuda continues to prepare for the Easter Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Under-23 Tournament in Grenada from July 6-12.
The squad includes seven newcomers in Briana Lewis, Penelope Adams, Tyea Ladoo, Mara Baptiste, Kay Joseph, Fernora Barthley and Maurica Lewis.
Eight senior players are also included. They are Shermaine Refer, Kizzy Thomas, Tricia Jarvis, Jamila Fitz, Ariel Alexander, Kristel King, Nikkie Hector and Antonyer Jervier.
The team’s head coach is former national player Cleopatra James and Shenneth Samuel, another former senior national player, is the assistant coach. The team will be managed by Daphnie Simmons and the trainer is Cedric “Super” David.
The squad, according to James, will be further reduced at the middle of June as they move into their final stage of preparation.
“OECS tournaments only require 10 players. The reserves would be like a shooter, a centre court and a defensive player. Most of the players that make up the squad at this time are past under-23 players so they have the experience,” James said.
“They have grown in the sense of their level of play. Most of them their mindset have changed so they are more eager to play and more eager to compete.
“At this present moment the national league has started and I can see what these girls have been taught over the period of time. You can see it being executed in the games and watching them play, they’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Asked what she thought of the team’s chances at the upcoming tournament, taking into consideration that the country has been out of regional competition for some time now, James said that in the final analysis, it depends heavily on the players.
“I don’t believe in saying that our chances are this or that. It depends on the girls because I am not the one playing out there. If I was a player, then I would be able to say what my chances of success would be so it’s up to the team,” James said.
“Anybody can do anything they chose to do, but it depends on your mind and if you say you can, then you would. They have the ability to, but if they don’t come up as a team and knit together, and say they going out there to win and we are going to make a difference, then I can’t say they are going to win or that they should win. They have to be the ones that can say that for themselves,” she added.
The team will continue to train at the YMCA Sports Complex from Monday through Thursday and will also compete in the ongoing netball competition being hosted by the Antigua & Barbuda Netball Association (ABNA).