Netball coach still optimistic
Victories over Australia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago are high on the list of New Year’s resolutions for Barbados’ netball team.
That is according to the team’s head coach Anna Shepherd, who has expressed optimism at the team’s chances of advancing past the group stage of next year’s Netball World Cup, despite being drawn in the “Group of Death”.
The tenth ranked Bajans have been grouped with sport’s two top teams – Australia and New Zealand – as well as the ninth ranked Trinidadians, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
But while Shepherd has referred to the draw as “unfair and lopsided” she has insisted that Barbados will be going all out to create a huge upset.
“Sports aren’t played in board rooms are on paper, they’re played on the court.
“We are ready to create the biggest upset ever by defeating both the number one and the number two seeds. It will be very, very difficult, but it is not impossible,” the former national netballer insisted.
Shepherd explained that despite a below-par seventh place showing at this year’s Commonwealth Games, she had seen some encouraging signs from players.
One of those signs she noted, was an improvement in play against the higher ranked teams.
“Our scores have been getting better against the top sides. Although we didn’t play as well as we wanted to at the Commonwealth Games, we were drawn with Australia and England, and we played well against them,” she said.
“And the last time we played against New Zealand, I remember us outscoring them in the fourth quarter. So those are encouraging signs for us going forward because it shows that we are starting to adapt to their style of play.”
However, she acknowledged that the national squad needed to have ideal preparations for the World Cup, which will be held in Sydney, Australia from August 7 to 16.
This she said should include some warmup games against some high quality opposition.
“We definitely need more warm-up games next year leading up to the World Cup.
“I know that to play against a side like Australia would be a bit expensive, so I know that it will be a bit difficult to organize some matches against them,” Shepherd acknowledged.
“But we definitely need to warm up well, so that we can head off to Australia on a positive note next year.”
She said that while the national squad had completed its training programme for the year, the girls were currently enrolled in the Little League Gym to get them in better shape physically.