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Mission to recover lost ground

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines senior netballers have a golden opportunity to reclaim their place among the tops in regional netball circles, but will have to come good to do so.{{more}}

Once a potent force, this country in recent years has slipped down the ladder.

And, as hosts of the American Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) this week, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be looking to settle scores with Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, who have toppled them from the position of second or third, with Jamaica holding down the top spot for some time.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a former Caribbean Netball champion, including, a joint holder, is currently the No.12th ranked team in the world.

This country last secured the CNA senior title when they finished ahead of the pack at the Caribbean tournament in 1998, which was staged in St. Lucia.

But returns at the senior level have not been good, as Barbados, once an easy picking for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has derailed the former champs.

Going into the AFNA Tournament, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is seeded fourth in the rankings, behind Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, in that order.

The top three outfits in the region were all part of the World Netball Championships in New Zealand.

The 2008 version is a return from where it all began, as this country hosted the first ever AFNA tournament back in 1994, which was won by Jamaica.

Carrying the fight for the Vincentians are long-standing player Skiddy Francis-Crick, who has been fittingly named Captain, Leanna Lewis – Vice Captain, Nichole Sandy, Joanna Christopher, Saska Diamond, Shannique de Shong, Julia Cumberbatch, Maxine James, Annette King, Rose Clair Hall, Curlan Francis-Edwards and Vasha Adams.

The reserves are Shelise Davis, Jacintha Adams and Keisha Kirby. Cecelia Jones is the team manager, with Dellarice Duncan – Coach.

The hopefuls, four who are fresh from the ECCB Under-23 championships in St. Lucia, along with the others, could on any day, be competitive.

The local team’s preparations have been far from satisfactory, but will have to put it together on the courts, meshing their individual talents, coupled with the home support as the eighth player.

The Tournament opens at the Arnos Vale Netball Complex this Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m., with the usual addresses and display of flags of the six competing countries.

The hosts start their bid this Sunday against Canada, in one of three matches in the opening round of matches. The other fixtures see Jamaica facing St. Lucia, with Trinidad and Tobago taking on Barbados.

On Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines takes on Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the tournament shifts to the Keartons Hard court, as St. Vincent and the Grenadines faces the Sunshine Girls, and world number four, Jamaica.

Thursday is a rest day in the Tournament.

Action returns to the Arnos Vale Netball Complex for the final round of matches and the closing ceremony.

The final matches see St. Vincent and the Grenadines meeting St. Lucia; Barbados facing Canada, and Jamaica taking on Trinidad and Tobago.(RT)

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