Barbados’ quest for water polo gold in the Under-19 Boys Division began on a positive note with a win against Bonaire when the 34th staging of the CARIFTA Swimming Championship commenced today at the National Aquatic Centre in Wildey.
The three-day water polo event is the first to kick off the 2019 CARIFTA swimming championship. The other programmes to follow at the CARIFTA Games here in Barbados will be artistic, open water and general swimming scheduled to take place on different dates during this month.
Barbados’ task is to get past four other opposing teams [Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Curacao, Bonaire] to claim that much-desired water polo gold medal.
In the seven-a-side match against Bonaire which comprised four quarters, seven minutes each, Barbados won 13-4 (4-0, 7-0, 10-3) to register a comfortable win.
Exhibiting great communication skills and awareness in the pool, Barbados dominated Bonaire, as Xavier Smith-Taylor wearing cap number 12 top scored with five goals for the Barbados national team. Lamar Mayers and Nathan James contributed three goals each while Tyrese Beckles, Darien Maynard and Jonathan Bryan had one goal each.
Scoring for Bonaire was Haakma Hayte with two goals to his name while Ole Pendersen and Rowan Beenakkers registered a goal each.
The closest Barbados came to a gold medal in the Under-19 Boys age group was 2017 at the CARIFTA Games held in the Bahamas. Despite that wonderful performance from the Under-19 Boys, Barbados struggled otherwise today as they failed to capture any other positive results.
Barbados lost three other matches, all against the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, losing 14-3 in the Under-19 girl’s competition. The Under-16 Boys who were allotted six minutes out of four quarters were also trounced 18-4 by the opposition wearing red and black. The Under-14s fell 12-3 in the co-ed category which is a combination of both boys and girls.
Ryan Forde, head coach of the Barbados boys team described today’s opening day of the swimming championship as satisfactory. However, he expressed his confidence for a much better showing going into tomorrow and the third and final day on Sunday.
“I have seen the other teams, and they are very competitive. Trinidad traditionally has been around for a good while, and in 2017 we beat them for silver in the Bahamas. So, it all comes back to consistency, and succession planning. I honestly believe that Barbados is the better team in the tournament, but now it is all about proving it because on any given day anybody could win.”
He added: “The fourteens and under, sixteen and under are playing both [in the 16 and 19 divisions], and unfortunately the schedule has not been as good to them for whatever reason. But our Under-fourteens started good, they were toe to toe with Trinidad, they were two, two, three, two and that stayed there until halftime and at halftime, it was five, three. They had some unlucky calls, but that is water polo, not everything will go your way. The sixteen and under as I said some of the fourteens and under play with them and the guys did well. I think honestly they could find themselves in the medal round for sure in both categories of the under-14 and 16 competition and every game they could only get better.”
Coach of the Barbados Under-19 female team, Natalia Parris, like Forde, was pleased with the females’ effort despite the loss. Parris explained that with Barbados and Trinidad being the only two sides competing in that age group, she believed that the Bajan ladies could tie the best of three contest 1-1 tomorrow and win the decider on Sunday.
“The girls played a good game; the defence was really good. Our shots were a little off target and because of the counters in the pool and the penalties that were called. That is the reason why we lost the game. But other than that, the defence was good, so once we could pick it up tomorrow, we could regroup and come better,” Parris said.
In other results, the Bahamas destroyed Curacao 24-1 in the males Under-16 Division. Curacao redeemed themselves with a 12-6 victory over Bonaire in the Under-14 co-ed competition while Trinidad and Tobago won 12-6 when they played the Bahamas also in the Under-14 co-ed. Trinidad and Tobago defeated Bahamas 11-7 in the Under-16 Boys age group.