Photo 6511: Kayla Keith-Wilson, (left) head coach of Scarborough High and Christopher Smart, Head coach of Excelsior High both expressed confidence of winning the Inaugural INF Champion Of Champions Netball Tournament to be held in Jamaica from July 15-21.
Members of both Excelsior High school from Jamaica and Scarborough High from Trinidad and Tobago, expressed confidence of winning the inaugural INF Caribbean Champion of Champions Netball Tournament, at a press briefing to update the status of preparations ahead of the highly anticipated start on Sunday.
Ten schools will participate in the regional tournament which pits the best high schools from the region against each other to prove which is the best in the Caribbean.
Christopher Smart, head coach of Excelsior who was very upbeat at the briefing expressed thanks for the introduction of this new event.
“For us at Excelsior High, we really endorse this competition. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the school children to get out there because you might have an Under-16 Championship in the region, but that is just a team from each country, but when it opens now to schools, then they can see it as something else to strive towards outside of your local competition in your island.”
Smart indicated that preparations for the event were put in place with an eye to win, not just participate.
“We are taking this competition very serious, we are coming out of a three weeks camp which I think worked very well for us. We got the girls to gel together, we got them to be more focused, settle in their immediate areas to participate in this competition,” he stated
The experienced coach is hoping to make history in his home country.
“It is the inaugural staging and history is something that is written and we would like to be, outside of one of the first teams to participate in this competition, be the team to win the first staging of this competition, so we are taking it very serious.”
Smart however lamented the loss of Mrs. Marva Bernad from his bench while recognizing the role has played as head of the local organizing committee.
“The only struggle that we are having at this point is that we are losing our lovely manager to the committee because Mrs. Bernard is also our team manager, we could not do well at all without Mrs. Bernard, but we welcome it because we know the type of person that she is because anything that she puts her hands on and her foot in, she is going to dedicate and commit herself so we really want to applaud Mrs. Bernard and the committee for what they have done so far for this competition.”
Kayla Keith-Wilson who is head coach at Scarborough said her team has been properly prepared for the tournament.
“We have been preparing well for this tournament. We had two months to prepare for the tournament because we were engaged in another league. We are the team that you should be looking out to take your title from you.”
Despite her players being young Keith-Wilson believes they will represent their country very well.
“Our girls have been in preparation where we have been putting in the work. They are a young bunch of girls, the oldest person is nineteen but we have those that are fourteen, most of them are like fourteen or fifteen or sixteen on the team. So we expect them to have that athleticism, that energy, that force that we need them to have on court to have good representation for our country.”
According to the Scarborough coach this tournament is the perfect way to expose talent in the Caribbean.
“I must say though, I welcome and applaud this tournament, this Champion of Champions, because I think we lack something for the younger girls in the region to really develop them and have them on the national level be prepared. The countries need this exposure for the girls to understand that they don’t just play during the school league.
“We are trying to expose our girls so they can excel, you can come out here, feed and learn off of the Caribbean’s champions of netball and further your studies. We have three girls actually lined up, hoping to get to come to GC Foster to further their studies. So we really grasp at the opportunity and we really appreciate how you all have welcomed us so far and we hope that we could have a really, really exciting tournament.”
Ayana Williams, captain of Scarborough Secondary, was just as confident as her head coach about winning the tournament and expects to be studying in Jamaica in the near future.
“I must say it’s a pleasure being in Jamaica to participate in this tournament. It’s a really good opportunity for us as we not so long came back from participating in the Florida Netball Classics where we carried three teams, one team placing first, one team placing second and one team placing third.
“I want to say thank you to our coach, Mrs. Kyla Keith-Wilson, a very hard working lady and I must say as I finish school this year I am looking forward to coming to this same GC Foster College to study and I would like to see this tournament growing and getting better to enhance the younger generation, getting them more experience for the wider region, so thank you for this opportunity.”
Former Under-16 Sunshine girl Kamia Daley who plays goal defence for Excelsior stated with confidence that her team was the one that would take the title this year.
“To me, me and my team we are going out there to win this competition in favour of our manager. We want our manager to feel very proud of us. Having a strong goal attack, goal shooter in Rackoya and Asana Williams, their partnership is strong, with our midcourt which includes our captain Crystal Crawford, Latian (Stewart) and Janelle (Williams) I don’t think any other school can come against our captain Crystal Crawford in centre and our defence line, Nasstassia (Duncansson) and myself I don’t think any shooter can come against us because we are good as that.
An opening ceremony which begins at 2pm at the Leila Robinson Courts will preceded the opening game at 3pm which will feature Jamaica’s Holmwood Technical High.