Friday, April 19, 2024

Netball season of possible upsets

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The 2018 netball season rallies off Monday at the Netball Stadium from 6 p.m. with a number of upsets and possible first-time champions very possible as injuries and national duty threaten to affect the traditional powerhouses.

Ironically, former queens Pine Hill St Barnabas and C.O. Williams Rangers do not look their normal strength on paper while a number of factors could affect UWI Blackbirds’ bid for repeat double crown glory.

The elevation of Goodride Ballers and Wolverines to Division 1 makes for tremendous battles.

Although the season begins Monday evening, Division 1 games will only be played initially on Fridays to accommodate the national team players, who head off to the Commonwealth Games on March 27 and return April 19.

Thus, teams like Goodride, Wolverines and Spooners Hill Firebirds, who do not have any active national players, will be in action in the early fixtures. That could give them an edge to create problems for Rangers, St Barnabas, UWI and Guardian General Pride of Villa.

After a dismal two seasons at the highest level, Newbury Stars have departed for a lower division, taking rookie national player Amanda Knight with them. On the other hand, Wolverines and Goodride have risen with a who’s who from many other teams where quick gelling can creates challenges and possible cup glory.

The experienced Kizzy Marville, who suddenly left the national team and Spooners Hill after the 2016 season, suits up for Goodride to be joined by Lisa Puckerin and talented youngsters Tamara Trotman, Markayla Yearwood and Shanese Griffith, who had played for Pride of Villa before turning out for the Barbados Defence Force (BDF).

With the likes of former national shooter Colleen Griffith and Kellyann Knight over from Spooners Hill and Danicia King, along with Kathy Nicholas and Keryn Clarke, Goodride can be forgiven for eyeing a smooth trip to one of the Division crowns.

Wolverines had originally registered new Barbados player Stephanie Patrick but indications are that she has returned to her Division 3 team, Unity Stars. Recruiting the tough defender Kathleen Brathwaite from Spooners Hill; Tamesha Forde from UWI Division 1 and a number of other Division 2 lightweights may offer some help for Tricia Briggs, Sheldine Clarke and Stacy Atherley to claw their way to the throne. Taking silverware may be a bigger challenge.

Blackbirds’ nest will only contain one top-tier team this season and in spite of serious injuries to Sheniqua Thomas and Shanice Rock, they can still field a formidable unit in Damisha Croney, Rieah Holder, Shonica Wharton, Shanice Wharton, Kittitian Roxanne Snyder, Rashida Chase, Kashera Corbin, Jehlisal Brathwaite and Alicia Harding, who are all current or former national players.

With Shonica also struggling with injuries and Croney and Holder being taxed with national duties, that could provide a narrow gap for the other teams to break UWI’s dominance.

St Barnabas’ Shonette Bruce, Vanessa Bobb and Shonte Seale will also have their hands filled with national commitments and it will call on the entire roster of former junior or senior Barbados players to put their team back in contention. 

Barbados’ captain Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp, Tonisha Rock-Yaw and Nikita Payne will also be depending on great efforts from their support staff for Rangers to be considered a serious threat.

Spooners Hill’s deadly shooter Lydia Bishop may be asking too much of her young talents and over seasoned teammates to be considered serious championship contenders. (KB)

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