U-21s target Top 8 finish


BARBADOS?WILL?BE?aiming for a record-setting eighth position or higher when the Under-21 netball team step on the court later this month to begin battle in the World Youth Netball Championship in Glasgow, Scotland.
Coach Sandra Bruce-Small, who assumed responsibility for the team just over one month ago, along with assistant Julie Phillips and manager Vaneisha Cadogan, declared that their first objective was to qualify in the top two of their group to advance to the final eight.
Barbados is grouped with England, The Republic of Ireland, Papua New Guinea and Singapore, with three wins needed to better the tenth place which Barbados achieved in 1996 in Canada when the team boasted the likes of Denise Alleyne, Cheryl Squires and current Barbados Netball Association president Nisha Cummins.
Bruce-Small was in charge when the team gained 12th spot at the last championship in the Cook Islands.
In the preliminary games, the 20 teams will be divided into four pools of five teams and will play a single round robin, until final games to determine a winner.
The team will leave for Glasgow on August 18 with the opening ceremony taking place four days later.
Barbados will not play until the August 24 when they meet the Republic of Ireland. The Bajans, who are currently training against the senior team and Deacons volleyball men, will have three warm-up matches in Glasgow.
Barbados will benefit from the gap by practising against Northern Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland.
“Practising against those three teams will give us some idea as to where we are in the tournament and as we will not play for the first two days of competition we shall get the chance to see some of our opponents in action,” said Bruce Small.
Jeniece Clarke and the British-trained Tonisha Rock-Yaw are two returning players from the last championship, while six-footer Shonica Wharton could be the lone player who is eligible for the next tournament.
“We are working really hard on zone defence as that is the kind of game which the European teams play and our focus is on exposing the girls to that style of play.
“Most of the girls have been exposed to zone since Rangers and St Barnabas alternate between zone and man-to-man defence, but we generally play man-to-man,” said Bruce-Small.
Banking on the height and speed of her players, Bruce-Small has targeted winning against three teams in their group – at least.
“This is one of the tallest teams which I have coached and with many of the players having a history with Julie and me at school, club or Barbados junior level, we have quickly established a relationship where everyone’s focus [is] on doing well for Barbados,” said Bruce-Small.
Crop Over and other activities denied the team the chance to get in some needed training on the wooden floor at the Wildey Gym as the championship in Glasgow will be played indoors on a wooden floor.
The team will play Deacons tonight and the senior team tomorrow at the Netball Stadium.
Next week, the squad will move indoors and Bruce-Small is hoping the Gym will be the practice venue until they leave.


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