Their recent push into the spotlight, surely, places pressure on the team to become even better at their A-game—the adrenalized team is ready to pump things up, letting others know that they are a team worthy of being contested.
Saint Lucia’s under 16 netball team acquired a new level of fame when they won the first match of this year’s Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball Under-16 Tournament against Bermuda, followed by another victory the day after in a game versus Dominica, a rival team. These victories lead to repetitive chants of their personal favourite, “Top Ting!”
Bianca Alfred, captain, (Wing Defense, Goal Defense, Goal Keeper), Kamala Mangal, vice-captain, (Goal Shoot, Goal Attack, Wing Attack), Jeremiah Evariste(Goal Defense, Wing Defense, Goal Keeper),Megan Nestor (Goal Defense, Goal Keeper, Wing Defense),Joanne Wilfred (Wing Attack, Center, Goal Shoot),Laurina Nicholas (Wing Attack, Wing Defense),MerkissaTheodule, (Wing Attack, Goal Shoot), Darcelle Francis (Center, Wing Defense),Kiana Nelson (Wing Attack, Goal Attack, Goal Shoot),Tanny William (Goal Attack, Wing Attack, Goal Keeper), Janell Mathurin (Wing Attack, Center) and Sherel Williams (Wing Defense, Goal Defense, Goal Keeper) are the twelve girls who make up the competent team.
Initially, the team started out with 35 young girls, however, “these are the cream of the crop”, said the team’s manager, Claudia Noel Jn. Baptiste.
“I have a diverse team; a group of young girls with a lot of talent. They come from different areas in Saint Lucia. We started training since January and these are the 12 girls who really stood out during the training and those we think can bring the victory to Saint Lucia,” she said additionally.
Of course, with Saint Lucia as host country for this year’s tournament, pressure is indubitably added as well as excitement—all in the making of a good game.
The girls train tirelessly for many hours throughout the week so that they are proficient on court. Not only are they physically trained, but mentally as well.
“We have taught the girls never to underestimate any team. We encourage them to go out there and perform with as little errors as possible because it’s the errors that can cause the team to lose,” the team’s manager said.
The girls’ winning streak was halted however, when they lost their first match to St. Vincent and the Grenadines which was followed by another defeat to Barbados and Grenada subsequently; these matches were all close matches however.
The team’s leaders have every confidence that the girls will peak again in their final match against Trinidad.
“We have prepared them psychologically: that even when they lose, it doesn’t mean that they have to lose again.We are hoping to get better results and I know that my girls will pull through,” the manager said in a motherly fashion.
Win or lose, Saint Lucians came out to show their support, their family members being the biggest supporters of them all.
This time around, the girls from the competing islands each have a shot at obtaining a scholarship so it is vital that they perform to the best of their abilities; this is the first time in the history of the championship that a scholarship is being offered.
According to the manager, the scholarship offered will be for entry at a boarding school in England where two chosen girls, will reside. The girls will be studying for their high school diploma and will play netball for the boarding school. For the girls to be eligible, they must perform exceptionally on the court, and off the court as well; they must excel in academics.
Although they are currently participating in the tournament, they have some down time and are bonding with each other at camp at one of the island’s hotels.
“I must tell you, and I’m so proud to say that, they are disciplined young girls. They are obedient, cheerful, playful, but know when to draw the line,” the manager stated.
2015 looks like it’s the year for the under 16 team who are guided by their manager, coach Shem Maxwell and assistant coach Roxanne Synder, as they have improved considerably from last year’s tournament.