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National netball team close to return after being invited to USA Spring tournament

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International exposure: Bermuda has been invited to a netball tournament in Florida, which may revitalise its dormant national team programme. Shown are North Village Whites and Storm Lighting in league action. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Four years since their last assignment, the Bermuda senior netball team’s thirst for international competition could be quenched in the not-too-distant future if all goes according to plan.

The Bermuda Netball Association has received an official invitation from the United States Netball Association to compete in the Spring Into Netball Tournament, which will be held in Florida in 2022.

“USA Netball Association has sent us the invite to basically participate in a tournament in the United States with potentially six other countries,” Kimale Evans, the BNA president, told The Royal Gazette. “It’s like a cross series so we’re looking at potentially next April and waiting to hear back from them.

“It’s a lot more that we will have to plan and prepare for in order to try and get going with this. But I am extremely excited about the potential of our senior women’s national team getting back into the swing of things.”

Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and the United Arab Emirates are the other countries that have received invitations to compete in the international tournament.

The national netball programme has remained dormant since 2017.

The association attempted to reignite the programme but saw their efforts halted by the global Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Kimale Evans, president of the Bermuda Netball Association.

“As we were looking to get involved in international competition Covid-19 came and just brought that to a complete halt,” Evans said.

“All competitions were cancelled and I would say during Covid-19 for the past two years the level of international and individual series are just starting this month to kind of pick up a little bit of steam.”

Evans said the pandemic has been a major stumbling block for the national programme but shared that the competitive downtime was used to offer educational opportunities for stakeholders.

“It’s been a major deterrent as far as us being able to get back to international competition for the players,” Evans said.

“We’ve just tried to press on and offer some courses to get our coaches and players educated. We’ve offered umpiring courses, coaches courses and taken every opportunity that we can not to just be completely idle.

“We’ve had participants that were previously involved in the national programme, right through from under-16 to senior women involved in these programmes that passed it and got certificates. So while they may not have been physically active, their knowledge of the game continues.

“So while it has been a major deterrent, as far as us trying to get back on the netball world rankings and things like that, we’ve definitely utilised it to educate and grow the knowledge of the sport.”

Bermuda are not ranked among the 44 nations listed on the World Netball international rankings, which was last published on March 31, 2021.

Evans said the association hopes to kick-start its various national programmes early in the new year.

“The association as a whole would be excited to try and start back up with international competition,” she said.

“We haven’t been able to start anything in regards to any national programmes because the focus has been more on and trying to just get our domestic game up and running.

“But hopefully come January we can then maybe kick-off and the (Covid-19 safety) rules will be a little more relaxed and things of that nature.”

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Published December 07, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated December 24, 2021 at 1:09 am)

National netball team close to return after being invited to USA Spring tournament

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