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Net gains at CAC

Sports 02 Jul, 2023 Follow News

Net gains at CAC

The Cayman Islands national netball team travelled to El Salvador to prepare for Monday’s start of the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) Games.

Besides Cayman, the Games will feature Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Dominican Republic and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Netball icon Lyneth Monteith, head coach of the CINA CAC squad, joined Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis on his radio show Cayman Conversations just before she left with the squad to compete at the Jose Adolfo Pineda National Gymnasium in San Salvador, El Salvador. Ida Jane Ebanks is managing the team.

Monteith said: “This is a historic competition. For many years overtures have been made to have netball in the CAC Games. It is Olympic--sponsored. This is really historic, never before done, and the Cayman netball squad is one of those teams that will be playing. We are playing against some of the top five teams in the Caribbean. This is a tremendous opportunity for netball to be showcased.”

The competition finishes on Friday, 7 July. Other sports such as basketball, rugby and swimming are staged as well as track and field. Unlike other international tournaments that allow expats to compete for their adopted nations, the CAC Games do not, so the Cayman team will comprise of only Caymanian nationals. As a result, this is a really young team with only one player aged over 21.

“The majority of them have been playing together since Under-14, so I think that bodes well because we’ve had that continuity coming up,” said Monteith. “It also bodes well for the Cayman Islands senior squad. Obviously, as persons age up you need to have persons to take their places. This is really what we’re building now and I can see that will pay dividends in the future.”

She added that she is “really excited by this young squad” because later on in the year there is a competition in Antigua where older netballers will be allowed to play which she thinks will create “a tight, cohesive, well-playing squad”.

Monteith added: “I’m really excited now about what direction netball is going as we develop the younger ones and also the grassroots so that we have that continuity going through.”

The strongest teams in the region are Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and St Vincent. Monteith believes that with further development Caribbean teams like the Cayman Islands can also be “a force to be reckoned with”.

The exposure to playing the best nations in El Salvador will be an invaluable learning experience Monteith feels in terms of fitness, tactics and technique. Game play is the most vital aspect to improve, she said. “I have seen teams build from strength to strength. In 2019, just before Covid, we went out twice, to Isle of Man and St Maarten. We didn’t do as well as we wanted in Isle of Man but we won the competition in St Maarten. That shows that the more you can hone your skills, the more you can raise it to the next level.”

Ralph Lewis said that when he recently watched a practice session, he was impressed with the Cayman squad’s commitment, discipline and work ethic. The umpiring will be in English but day to day interaction will be in Spanish. “That should be very interesting,” Monteith smiled.

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