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Poor focus

Netballers flop but coach still optimistic

A lack of concentration from Barbados’ netballers contributed to their indifferent performance at the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, says senior coach Anna Shepherd.

She told Barbados TODAY the game they lost against Trinidad 39-38 should have instead been a victory but the Trinidadians got sweet revenge for their one-goal loss to Barbados four years ago at the 2010 games in Delhi, India.

“As I said that is the game we should have won and I figure if we had won that game, how we competed against Wales, against South Africa, we could have been up in there. How I look at it is that we went to Ireland and beat them in front of their home crowd. Ireland is sitting in that number seven spot which should have been our spot. As coach I thought that we lost our focus and we did not perform and we had the stats that showed that we had all our ball possession, we had 46 turnovers to Trinidad’s nineteen, and we had more attempts than Trinidad,” Shepherd said.

Barbados played in group B with opposition like Australia, South Africa, England, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. They played six matches and won just one when they defeated St Lucia 53-27 to finish 11th at the Games.

Rhe-Ann Niles in action during the game against South Africa.

Rhe-Ann Niles in action during the game against South Africa.

When asked whether the team lacked experience the veteran coach with the National Sports Council said: “Our team is mixed with youth and experience and that has always been my style; that the young ones should have somebody to learn from and you have Shonette Bruce, Latonia [Blackman] and quite a few that I exposed at a young age that are now our senior players.

“So I figure they must have somebody to learn from and I think the mixture is right. The players have been building up right through. In the Trinidad game we started the first quarter with a short combination because that was a combination that worked really well after the Jamaica game and Jamaica is a tough opposition. You could play good center court, you could play good defense, but if you do not get the attempts at goal you still cannot win the game. The Wales game we should have won also and we had South Africa on the run. Yes, it is a disappointing thing because the expectations were higher.”

Shepherd, nevertheless, noted that the Games provided an important learning experience for her charges and she did not see the results as a setback for Barbados’ netball.

“The girls will regroup so I do not think it is a setback. The girls are among the top twelve teams in the world but I wanted to be in the top six where Ireland is now sitting and realistically we could have gotten there if the girls hadn’t lost focus,” she stressed.

The former national player who became the first Barbadian netball coach to successfully coach the local team into an international joint sixth position with the Cook Islands back in 1987, told Barbados TODAY that in order for netball to grow to that top rank position the players needed more exposure.

“We need exposure and that has been showing in our games which you would see one quarter of brilliance and then it goes down and the consistency is not there. And you could only get that consistency by playing at that level consistently. We left here where we practise on asphalt to go and play on wooden floor and that is why so many of our players got so many injuries,” the coach said.

Shepherd took time to praise defender and senior player Shonette Bruce for her outstanding efforts in Glasgow.

“Shonette was leading in rebounds and interceptions and for someone who plays defense that is very good. Our strength is our defense but shooting and getting the ball to the shooters is our problem and it is something we have been working on,” she pointed out.

The national team will be off to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, for a couple of days for the world qualifiers and the coach is expecting good results. Rhe-Ann Niles who was vice-captain of the netball team at the Commonwealth Games has a knee injury and will be out of action for the next couple of weeks.


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