Tuesday, April 16, 2024

World Youth Netball hope


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NATIONAL UNDER-21 COACH Sonya Knight believes Barbados will do well in Group D following the draw for the August 22-31 World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
Barbados are in the group with England, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Ireland.
“I don’t think it is an easy draw by any means,” Knight told NATIONSPORT in a telephone interview, “but I believe they will do well in that group.”
The coach said she would need to see how the teams performed at the last tournament in 2009 to make a better assessment.
England were fourth, Barbados 12th, Singapore 14th and Papua New Guinea 16th. Of that group, Barbados only faced Singapore, defeating them 47-39, while the Republic of Ireland did not participate.
The top four countries were each placed in one of the four groups.
In Group A are defending champions Australia, South Africa, Fiji, Israel and Namibia.
Runners-up New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Malta and Bermuda are in Group B, while third-placed Jamaica, Wales, Samoa, the Cayman Islands and hosts Scotland comprise Group C.
Knight said the Bajans needed warm-up matches, but since the Barbados Netball Association lacked the funds to send them overseas to compete, she would try to get some matches against male players or some of the stronger teams in the league to toughen up the girls.
England recently played Jamaica in three Tests and she was disappointed they did not come to Barbados, but the local team were a late addition to the tournament.
Currently, 19 players have consistently been attending training sessions, but the coach said she would like the number trimmed to 15 so they could start fine-tuning.
“I would like to mould, to make the girls move from fighting to make the team to playing well for Barbados,” she explained.
Training sessions are twice a week, with several players still turning out for their clubs in the domestic league. Knight said she had been using those matches as part of training to assess how the players reacted in pressure situations.
One such assessment came after a select group under the banner Phoenix Gems were whipped 54-36 by Spooners Hill in the Senior Knockout competition.
“The girls that are playing together are not necessarily the Under-21 squad. Some are members, but we still have some key players who are playing for Rangers and St Barnabas. We gave way for them to play for their clubs.”
Knight said she discovered some of the players were afraid of their opposition even before the match began.
Despite 98 per cent shooting, the team did not get enough attempts, made too many unforced errors, used the long pass instead of taking the ball to the circle and panicked under pressure.
The coaching team will be working on strengthening the players’ mentally.
The Under-21 training programme will go into high gear, with more training sessions, after the knockout competition ends on April 20.


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