The Barbados senior netball selection committee has assembled one of the most balanced teams to compete in a two-match Test series against Scottish Thistles at the Glasgow’s Emirates Arena in early December.
Margaret Cutting, head coach for the Bajan Gems, said they were hoping to have an opportunity to train in an indoor facility which is usually at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, before they depart for the December 2nd and 3rd series.
“We have some older players here that played at Worlds, Commonwealth, some played at World Youth. But we are going into a country that is really cold and being indoors and playing under the air condition, the girls need to get acclimatized to that, because when you play in the air conditioning the girls pant a lot, try to catch their breath until they get accustomed to it,” she explained.
During an interview tonight at the Netball Stadium, Cutting told Barbados TODAY that amid the preparation challenges, the side led by captain Latonia Blackman was a well-balanced motivated group.
Cutting who assumed the position of national head coach in 2019 noted that with Blackman, vice-captain Shonette Azore-Bruce,
Sabreena Smith, Shonica Wharton, Sheniqua Thomas, Brianna Holder and also the return of Vanessa Bobb, Faye Agard added depth to the team along with the inclusion of first-timers Stephian Shepherd and Akeena Stoute who are all expected to bring something to the table.
Shepherd and Stoute are both very young and making their senior debuts for Barbados having represented at the Under-16 level.
Cutting spoke highly of the two young ladies. “She [Shepherd] is an all-around player.
She can play midcourt, defensive circle and if I need to use her in the shooting circle as well, I can do that. She is a versatile player. Stoute is a defensive player and she played in the circle and the wing defence. They are two young people I know I can get something out of.”
As solid as the Bajan Gems are on offence and defence, the likes of Damisha Croney who served as captain before Blackman took over, along with Samantha Browne, are unable to participate due to personal issues and would be missed.
In 2019 Cutting served as the assistant coach when Barbados last played Scotland. She stated that the hosts are a good team and that she expected a good showing.
Cutting has earned her stripes as a national coach with numerous accomplishments.
She began coaching at the second Under-16 tournament held in Barbados in 1999. Cutting was the coach at that time and
Barbados went unbeaten along with St Vincent until they met in the final and the Bajan Gems placed second to the Vincentians. After that, she went on to coach the World Youth Team in 2005 in competition that was held in Fort Lauderdale in the US.
Barbados is hoping to feature at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and they are currently ranked 12th in the world standings with the Cook Islands and Zambia right behind.
Since 1998 Barbados have competed at the Commonwealth Games and are seeking to continue the trend. The imminent series against Scotland is important because a good showing would further solidify their place.
Coach Cutting revealed that they may look to strengthen the team after the series against Scotland once the pandemic eases up and more players are allowed to participate in national training. This is all part of the plan leading up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I wouldn’t say we would stick to the squad. Remember our domestic season did not run for 2019, so if the COVID eases up and we open back then we may see other players that we can incorporate. But we still have players missing from here that are not available for the tournament because of injury.
“We have persons like Samantha Browne, she is not available for this tournament but we will be having her for the Commonwealth Games as long as she is back out to training.
Then several players are out because they are under the doctor’s care.
“So, when the full squad comes back together and they show that they are good enough to come back in, that would be fine.
Also, I would look at the performances of the players in the series and see what they give me there and see if we can move on with them,” Cutting explained.