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(SNO) — A capable 12-member Saint Lucia team is set to compete at the 19th Caribbean Netball Association (CNA) Jean Pierre Under-16 netball tournament, set for Antigua and Barbuda later this month.
The tournament will be without defending champions, Jamaica. Saint Lucia, the 2018 hosts, finished second last year.
Saint Lucia, who were also named the most improved team a year ago at home, will return four players, but will be without the outstanding Megan Nestor. Leading in her absence will be Dasha Eugene, the attacking player from Corinth Secondary hoping to repeat or improve on their second-place finish.
Supporting Eugene will be three-position defender Renala Francis of Soufriere Comprehensive, Leon Hess Comprehensive defender Racquel John, and Gracy Alcide, a defensive ace from St Joseph’s Convent. Gracy has another year at this level, but this will be the last U16 competition for the other three.
Also surviving from the original squad of 24 are the Soufriere Comprehensive trio of goal shoot Tancy Matthew, wing defender Janiah Paul, and Mia Shernice Peter, a versatile player, who (at 14 years old) is the youngest on the team. Soufriere have dominated schools netball for half a decade.
The Soufriere quartet also has some international experience, having played a schools tournament in Jamaica last year. Although themselves and Micoud Secondary, their main challengers in local school netball, were soundly beaten, they ought to have taken away invaluable lessons in preparation and tactics.
Speaking of Micoud Secondary, they are represented by wing attack Jermia Martial and goal shoot Semaj Marguerite. St Joseph’s Convent also has two players on the team, the second being goal shoot / goal attack Trenice St Croix. St Croix, Eugene, Francis, and John will all age out in 2020.
The other players are Jania Gregg, a goal shoot / goal attack from Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School, and Shania Oggile, a wing defense / goal defense / goal keep from Castries Comprehensive Secondary School. In total, seven schools will be represented in Antigua and Barbuda.
Training, under the guidance of Shem Maxwell, has been ongoing since November of last year, during which time the girls would have also been engaged in schools competition. They have been going at it four times a week since, in Micoud, Castries, and Soufriere.
Rufina Paul, president of the Saint Lucia National Netball Association, offered a mixed sports metaphor in touting the chances of the national team as they get set to take on some of the region’s best youth players. Speaking after a training session at the Vigie Sports Complex, she said:
“Saint Lucia obviously needs to step up to the plate, and see how best we can maybe capture [the title], and I think I’m optimistic that if the girls look focused as they should, nothing is impossible, so we’re hoping for the best for them coming out of Antigua.”
The Jean Pierre Youth Netball Championship (named after the renowned International Netballer, the late Jean Pierre of Trinidad & Tobago), is staged annually by the Caribbean Netball Association (CNA). Each year over 300 young netballers (girls under 16 years old) and officials, from several Caribbean countries participate in these championships which started in 1998 and held annually in a different Caribbean territory.
The main objective is to foster the physical, social and emotional development of the people of the Caribbean, through sports, social activities and life skills programmes. Over 70% of the players who participate in this event move on to represent their respective countries at the Under-21 and Senior National Level.
Earlier this week, the national team got financial support from corporate partners, including 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Ltd, LUCELEC, and Massy Stores. The trip is costing the national federation approximately $50 thousand.
Team Saint Lucia:
Gracy Alcide – SJC, GD/WD/GA
Dasha Eugene – COR, GS/GA/WA
Renala Francis – SCSS, GK/GD/WD
Jania Gregg – SISSS, GS/GA
Racquel John – LHCSS, GD/GK/GS
Jermia Martial – MSS, WA/C/WD
Semaj Marguerite – MSS, GS
Tancy Matthew – SCSS, GS
Shania Oggile – CCSS, WD/GD/GK
Janiah Paul – SCSS, WD/C
Mia Shernice Peter – SCSS, C/WA/WD
Trenice St Croix – SJC, GS/GA