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Netball winter season starts in style

Danielle Raynor came up against tough opposition in Kimale Evans’s Storm at Bernard Park (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The Winter League netball season started on Saturday with the first group of matches played in the Sylvia Eastley Tournament at the new-look courts at Bernard Park.

“A lot of work has been put in to prepare the netball courts for the Winter League season,” Kimale Evans, the Bermuda Netball Association president, said.

“A facelift was much needed to give a boost to the players and teams who are part of this league.”

Evans explained how there is to be more synergy between the junior and senior programmes.

“Our under-16 national team are going to be training with our senior squad,” she said. “We have a few tournaments on the radar for 2018 that we can potentially have for under-16 and under-19 teams as well as the senior team.

“It is imperative that the national team continue to play matches, to build our world ranking and to give them much needed exposure.

“We just missed out on making the Commonwealth Games, but it is important for us to keep a world ranking because we can be invited to competitive tournaments. So the more games that we play we can keep, and build, our world ranking.”

Evans was also impressed with the spirit and turnout at Saturday’s event. “Today was amazing,” she said. “It was a collective joint venture from the new and revived council members.

“One of our council members, Andre ‘Sandy’ Thomas actually painted the courts. He did a phenomenal job getting the courts ready. The camaraderie of the teams was great. It was competitive, but it was sportsmanlike competitiveness.

“We’re a small community, but we’re a family community and that’s what we want to build on.

Competitiveness is important, but sportsmanship is more important.”

Evans herself coaches Storm, who did creditably, with their only defeat coming at the hands of champions Phoenix Heat, who feature lethal Bermuda goal shooter, Danielle Raynor.

“We did well,” Evans said. “We played three matches and won two. It was extremely competitive with Phoenix Heat, who are the current league champions.

“We had them at one point where we could have taken the lead, but we missed that opportunity. We have a young bunch. Our entire senior squad is under the age of 19, so I think they did a phenomenal job.

“Most of them have moved up from under-16 level. To be 2-1, I applaud them.

“Danielle is a national squad goal shooter. She did a really good job in keeping her at bay because, for a minute, she had to adjust and realised that she had to move a bit more. We’ll get ‘em! This tournament will finish next week and then we have league matches.

“That game in particular gave them a massive boost. They exceeded my expectations.”

Chaquita Simons, of NVCC Lady Rams Red, took individual honours in the Shooting Competition, scoring nine out of ten attempts. Second place went to JahKenya Trott, of Lindo’s Tigers, with eight.