It wasn’t the finish they would have preferred, but earning the silver medal among a field of 25 was still an impressive showing for the ladies on the Caricom team from Lauderhill at the recent Florida Netball Classic in Coral Springs.
Vying against international squads as well as those from the United States, Caricom gave a solid effort throughout the two-day tournament at Coral Springs High School. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Florida Netball Classic.
Caricom made it to the finals after posting seven consecutive victories, but lost 18-13 to defending champion Scotiabank A squad from Jamaica in front of a capacity crowd. In its semi-final match, Caricom defeated the Scotiabank B team, 14-10.
Jamaica came to compete with 16 teams, followed by five clubs representing the United States. There were also representatives from the Cayman Islands and Trinidad Tobago.
Caricom is one of the local heavyweights in the sport and has four players from the U.S. National Netball team: Measha Brown, Annette Payne, Natalie Cousins and Dahilan MacArthur. Brown serves as the captain of the Caricom team, which is coached by Robbie Whyte.
Brown, who lives in Lauderhill, has been playing netball for more than 20 years. She is one of many Jamaican expatriates playing the sport in the U.S. and has been with Caricom for eight years.
“We have a bunch of disciplined ladies who make it an emphasis to play as a team, making it easier to win,” Brown said. “We are very confident and have won this tournament before. We love the competition, and Scotiabank has some great players who really brought it on. They stepped up the level of competition.”
The Caricom squad practices at the Lauderhill Sports Complex three to four times a week.
Florida is one of 35 states that stage netball competitions. The goal is to make the Florida Netball Classic the premier tournament in the country and introduce netball to as many U.S. athletes as possible. “This is a popular worldwide sport, and we want to get more Americans to play,” said Edina Bayne, a co-director of the Florida Netball Association.
Bayne, a resident of Miramar, was introduced to the game when it was part of the school curriculum in Trinidad and Tobago. As a basketball player in Canada, she saw that those in her sport were able to adapt their skills to the netball game.
“There are a lot of scholarships in Caribbean schools for talented netball players, and the American skill levels are fantastic,” Bayne said. “We want to get the sport into U.S. colleges so it can be played at the intercollegiate level. We would also like to see netball become a part of the sports curriculum at community centers, parks and recreation departments and boys’ and girls’ clubs.”
For information, visit floridanetballfna.org.