Members of the national netball team were today given words of encouragement by Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, as they prepared for their test series against Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Minister Sutherland, who joined the team at their first official practice session at the National Netball Stadium, Waterford, St. Michael, told them that he was pleased to see them back on the court, as they were also preparing for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Birmingham, England, next year.
He lamented the fact that the team had not been able to train enough, and said: “It has been challenging, for each and every one of you. I know COVID has preventing you from getting on the court, and [is] presenting some stress, but God has been good and the fact is, you’re here.”
The Minister sought to encourage the squad by highlighting that Barbados is known for punching above its weight. “I often say Barbadians per capita have done better than any other nation in the world in the sport of cricket, and I’ve added netball to that, when you look at your success over the years. You have something to be proud of and boast about. Geographic and population size is not an impediment to global excellence for you all, and I want you to know that the Government is watching you, in terms of what you have done for this country, and as women, especially, as sports is an enfranchisement and an economic tool in order to bring people out of poverty.”
Mr. Sutherland also urged the young ladies to use this opportunity to raise their socio-economic status within their communities and families.
“I want you not only to use sport to get on the court and exercise, but to see it as an opportunity for you to move from strength to strength and enhance your status within your domain … and also to help your families,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of the Barbados Netball Association, Nisha Craigwell, disclosed that Barbados is currently ranked 13th in the world, and has to participate in this international meet to preserve its qualification for the Commonwealth Games next year, but it has a winning history against Scotland, which is ranked eighth in the world. She added that “the Isle of Man is ranked 23rd, and Barbados is looking forward to winning that game”.
The squad is led by the most capped player Latonia Blackman, with over 150 caps for the “Bajan Gems”; Shonette Azore-Bruce, who has been the best defensive player for the last two Commonwealth Games, and Sheniqua Thomas, who has been in the squad from age 16, and has played in the World Youth Team.
The full team comprises: Akeena Stoute, Brianna Holder, Chiara Chase, Dei Padmore, Faye Agard, Jada Smith, Jalisa Austin, Kerri King, Latonia Blackman, Leanne Greenidge, Mia Butcher, Rashida Chase, Sabreena Smith, Samatha Browne, Shaquilla Davis, Sheniqua Thomas, Shonette Azore-Bruce, Shonica Wharton, Stephian Shepherd, Tonisha Rock-Yaw, Trishan Deane, Vanessa Bobb, Vivica Addison and Zakiya Kirton.
The management team consists of Margaret Cutting – Coach; Adrian Craigwell – Assistant Coach; Lucille Atkinson Reeves – Manager; Desmond Grant – Trainer, and Armand Harper – Doctor.
The national team leaves the island on November 24.