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Wallace, McCollin boost ‘Calypso Girls’ for CNC
Reinforced by professional players Samantha Wallace and Kalifa McCollin, the national netball team will look to gain respect in its hunt for the title in a depleted Caribbean Senior Netball Championships to be held in St Lucia, next month.
The dynamic shooting duo rejoin the “Calypso Girls” which will be led by Joelisa Cooper for the Caribbean Netball Association (CNA) tournament, which was originally scheduled to take place in August but was postponed to October 9-15. The competition will be held at the Beausejour Indoor Facility in Gros Islet.
Wallace and McCollin return from their respective stints in Australia and England, boosting the unit, which comprises a mixture of experienced players and newcomers named by coach Wesley “Pepe” Gomes.
Wallace is a member of the New South Wales Swifts that competes in the Suncorp Super Netball League after being drafted from the English League where she played for the Hertfordshire Mavericks while McCollin made her debut in the Vitality Netball Superleague as a shooter with Celtic Dragons earlier this year.
“Our shooting end has definitely been strengthened with the homecoming of Sam (Wallace) and Kali (McCollin),” said captain Cooper, who herself is a shooter. “Also, the youngsters bring so much with them that it compliments the senior team almost seamlessly.”
Cooper was speaking on the addition of Under-21 national players Aniecia Baptiste and Shernece Seemungal, who formed the nucleus of the youth team which participated at the World Youth Netball Cup held in Botswana in July. Other newcomers are Milika Peters and Shaquanda Greene.
Returning players include former senior national captain Rhonda John-Davis, who stepped aside from the senior squad to focus on coaching the U-21 team at the Youth Cup, Kielle Connelly, Candace Guerero, Onella Jack-Hill and Tricia Liverpool. The reserves are Afiya Vincent, Shantel Seemungal and Jeresia McEachrane.
Gomes will be looking to his team to mesh well when it tackles recent entrant netball powerhouse Jamaica, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and host St Lucia, hoping to improve the national team’s rankings and status in world netball. The “Sunshine Girls” of Jamaica, who last month withdrew from the tournament, confirmed its participation earlier this week.
“They’re (Jamaica) expected to be our toughest competitors for that title but we’re up for it and I think it’s all about whoever makes the least mistakes and stick to their game plan,” said Cooper.
It was reported then that the Jamaicans had decided against competing as they found themselves in a no-win situation - even if they won the tournament by winning every game, they could have lost five ratings points. At that time, both Barbados, who some two months ago swept T&T 3-0 in a three-match series, and Grenada also withdrew from the competition as well.
However, Cooper has full confidence that her team can bounce back and excel at the Caribbean Tournament. She said, “I expect us to compete, execute the game plans and leave everything on the floor. Our last encounter wasn’t what we hoped for but we have been working hard at our shortcomings and I expect a much better result.
“We just can’t wait for the games. We haven’t been a part of an actual tournament since World Cup 2015 (besides the Tri series against Barbados).”
The teams will compete in a round-robin format in two rounds of matches.
Aniecia Baptiste (Blazers/ UWI), Kielle Connelly (Manzanilla/UTT), Joelisa Cooper (Police), Shaquanda Greene (UTT), Candace Guerero (UTT), Onella Jack-Hill (Fire), Rhonda John-Davis (Police), Tricia Liverpool (Defence Force/Fire), Kalifa McCollin (Soul City/Celtic Dragons), Milika Peters (Horizon), Shernece Seemungal (Manzanilla/UTT), Samantha Wallace (Soul City/UTT/New South Wales).
Standbys: Afiya Vincent (Police/UWI), Shantel Seemungal (Manzanilla/UTT), Jeresia McEachrane (Police (Tobago)/UWI)
Officials: Wesley Gomes (coach), Grace Parkinson-Griffith (assistant coach), Carol Gittens (manager), Wayne Samuel (trainer), Oba Gulston (Physiotherapist)