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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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Dr Patricia Butcher, president of the T&T Netball Association (TTNA) as well as the American Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) says former world champions, T&T should target a “Top Six” finish at the upcoming 14th Netball World Cup in Sydney Australia, from August 7-16.

The “Calypso Netballers” who won the world title in 1979 jointly with the Australia  and New Zealand, will come up against the top two teams in the world, host Australia and New Zealand in Pool A as well as Caribbean rivals Barbados in round-robin play. Dr Butcher said the team should be aiming to improve on it seventh placed finish from four years ago in Singapore.

Speaking yesterday, Dr Butcher noted that the T&T team was now going through a transitional stage with a few senior players retiring over the past year, but at the same time saw know reason why the team cannot improve at this year’s event.

She added, “We first need to be realistic about where we are as a team and then our chances in the group, because having to face Australia and New Zealand will not be an easy task in the group phase, while we expect Barbados being our Caribbean rivals to be a very strong challenge as well.

Prior to the World Championships, the “Calypso Netballers”, coached by Wesley “Pepe” Gomes will travel to England for a three-match series against that country from May 4 to 10th after which they will travel to Belfast to compete as the Netball Europe Open Championship from May 14—17 in Northern Ireland against the host, Scotland, Wales, England and fellow guest team South Africa.

Looking ahead to the two tours which will serve as the local women main World Cup preparations, Dr Butcher said it will be a very important for the team to gauge where they are in terms of readiness for August as we have taken the decision not to go to Jamaica for the final World Cup warm-up because we feel that the matches in Europe will be of much more use to us as compared to only facing Jamaica and Barbados.

Pool B of the 2015 Championship features world third and fourth ranked teams, England and Jamaica as well as Scotland and Samoa, while Malawi, South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka comprise Pool C, and the quartet of Fiji, Wales, Uganda and Zambia make up Pool D with the matches carded for the 21,000 seat Allphones Arena (formerly known as the Sydney SuperDome and Acer Arena), Sydney Olympic Park.

In terms of an overall development plan for the sport locally, the local netball boss said very soon her association together with the Ministry of Sport and Sport Company of T&T (Sportt) will be jumping off their youth programmes.

“Our objective is to develop high calibre players and we will be starting our programme for 5-12 years across eight communities shortly.

“We have already gotten the support of the Ministry of Sport and Sportt with regards to covering the salaries for our coaches and officials for the programme and this will be followed by similar scouting and training programmes in the national talent identification programme for players in the Under-16 and Under-19 age-groups across the country.

Butcher also said that former national players Janelle Barker and Lystra Solomon-Simpson are currently preparing the national Under-16 team for the upcoming Caribbean Netball Association Jean Pierre Championship (Under-16) and the team is looking forward to doing much better than it did last year.

“We have taken a decision to make use of the former national players as a means of succession and since last September coach Barker and her assistant Solomon-Simpson have been preparing the team to the best of their ability.

“There is also the World Youth (Under-21) Championship to come in the next couple years and on completion of the World Championship in Australia, senior team duo, Rhonda John-Davis and Kemba Duncan will be dedicating much more of their time towards preparing that team as well, “ ended Dr Butcher.

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