Trinidad and Tobago’s “Calypso Girls” will attempt to make a winning start to their tri-nations netball series, which jumps off today as the hosts face Northern Ireland from 5.15 p.m. at Tacarigua’s Eastern Regional Indoor Sporting Arena.
T&T will take on the Northern Irish and Barbados over the next three days as they gear up for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July, and coach Wesley Gomes will use the opportunity to assess his players’ progress from five months ago, when he first assumed the reins.
Late last year, Gomes had his first overseas assignment, another tri-series in South Africa against the hosts and England, and T&T also have another three-way tournament planned away to Scotland and featuring Namibia as well towards the end of next month.
Although happy about the strides his team—currently ranked tenth in the world—has made between then and how, Gomes wants to see another level of progress against Northern Ireland today.
“I saw [Northern Ireland] last year October in another tri-series involving Barbados,” he said of the team currently ranked 11th. “Judging from that, yes I would like to win, every team is preparing for Scotland as well and they play against ranked teams. They would be improving. We would have improved, I expect [our opponents] to improve. I expect to win, but I won’t be taking them lightly.”
The T&T coach is seeking victories in both matches—they play Barbados (ranked eighth) at the same venue on Saturday—and termed the latter contest “very, very important”.
“People have the opinion that Barbados has our number. We need to change that around. It’s not a big difference from eight and ten. We’re playing for ranking so we want to beat Barbados convincingly beat Ireland. We really want to be in the first six or seven.”
Among the things T&T will test today is the work they have done on eliminating technical issues, as well as cohesiveness and their response to pressure situations. They’ve also swapped the man-marking style for a zonal defence.
“That’s the only way to judge it, when you’re playing and having pressure,” Gomes said.
He has been advising his players to keep things simple and make sure they master the basics. That, Gomes hopes, will improve their approach to the game, and hopefully bring success as well.
“We have the talent, but we like the excitement thing,” he said. “We would see a nice pass, easy pass and make the difficult pass. We have to try to do the simple ones and if the difficult one comes along, we have the talent (to pull it off).
“(I told them to) try and keep it simple. But that is difficult because we like flair. We like to show off. ”
T&T squad: Anika La Roche-Brice (Captain), Janelle Barker, Kalifa Mc Collin, Joelisa Cooper, Afiesha Noel, Crystal Ann George, Tricia Liverpool, Rhonda John-Davis, Onella Jack, Kemba Duncan, Candice Guerrero, Alicia Liverpool. Anastascia Wilson, Daystar Swift, Ashelle Legall (Reserves); Wesley Gomes (Coach), Carol Demming-Gittens (Manager).