CAY HILL--The Champion of Champions Inter-secondary School U19 netball tourney which is sanctioned by the Americas Federation of Netball Association (AFNA) begins today at 1:00pm at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium.
The tourney brings together all of the best secondary schools netball teams around the Caribbean; although, a few teams withdrew at the last moment citing different reasons. Six teams will compete for the Champion of Champions trophy. Those teams are from Jamaica, Barbados, two schools from St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Maarten.
The team from St. Maarten is the greenest team in the tournament with some of the players being as young as 13 years in an U19 tournament. St. Maarten only started organized training for netball about five years ago and only just over two years in the primary schools. The local team has been coached by Lisa Timothy, Katrine Gumbs and Jonelle Landefort. The local association is using this championship as a way of exposing the girls to a competitive tourney as they prepare for the 2027 World Youth Games.
The members on the St. Maarten team are Sarai Willemburg, Azareah Bontiff, Ariel Goberdham, Shervanna Diedrick, Lean Ford, Syrianna Violly, Rianna Roberts, Makeyah Moore, Natasha Busby, Jeanice Landefort, Kayla Robinson, Aisha Violenus and Lily Hurtado.
For this championship, look out for Gaynstead High School from Jamaica which is labeled as the favourite school to win the competition.
The Daily Herald spoke with two players from the Gaynstead High School. They were Horesha Roberts and Kelsey Jonas. Both girls are 17 years old. Roberts plays the positions of Goal Defense, Goal Keeper and Wing Defense. Jonas' positions are Goal Attack, Goal Shooter and Wing Attack.
Roberts was asked how she started playing netball. She told us that she was doing track and field from 7th to 8th grade but felt that wasn't her real sport. Then she was recommended to do netball. At first she did not get it but trained every day. She pushed herself to do better. Eventually she got better and now she plays very well. She has been playing netball for five years now.
In answering the same question, Jonas said that she started as a track star. She did not know anything about netball but in primary school she used to watch other students play netball which inspired her to play the sport.
Both players were asked what benefits they get from playing netball. Roberts revealed that because of netball she received a college scholarship and it makes her stay healthy. Jonas said that it makes her humble, determined and encouraging person. Netball also helps her to travel the world. She is hopeful that she gets a scholarship when she is ready to go to college.
Their encouragement to local girls playing netball is to work hard, believe in themselves, don't get discouraged when they see other girls playing better than them but train hard and put in the work.
Concerning the team and their regiments, they told us that they have camps and train every day. Team members have to be disciplined . They have to have the mindset and willingness to train on weekends and put in extra work.
Asked how they balance school work and playing netball. They revealed that they must show progress and a positive attitude towards their school in order to play netball. Pastor Brown who is the manager of the team always monitor their school work and that determines if they play or do not play.
Gaynstead High is ranked as the number one team in Jamaica. They are the current champion. They were not always on top but they eventually got there in the last two years. Both the junior and senior teams are champions in Jamaica.
Both players have ambition of playing for the Jamaica national netball team one of these days.