By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Netball Association (ABNA), Karen Joseph, said there is still a lot of work needed if the country is regain the status it once enjoyed within the OECS and the Caribbean.
Speaking on the heels of the country’s participation in its first senior tournament in almost 10 years, Joseph, who was coach during the OECS International Ranking tournament held in St. Vincent just a little over a week ago, said the aim is to keep playing in as many tournaments as possible.
“We have a lot of work to do in terms of strength and fitness for the girls going forward because there is supposed to be a tournament in October in St. Martin which is another ranking tournament because we cannot stay in Antigua and get ranked. So even if we don’t have any money, we will try and solicit and raise funds because we can’t stay here and get ranked,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda won only one game at the tournament, getting a narrow victory over Dominica. Joseph, a former national goal shoot, said the players gave their best knowing the odds were against them.
“They knew the challenges but they said, ‘Madam P [President], we are up to the challenge because we need to get back ranking in Antigua’. so the girls went out with the mentality that they are going to fight and not to come last though and I couldn’t desire better from the girls’ performance. They played in spite of the challenges because we had to play morning matches then in the night and back again in the morning. Mentally, they were not 100 percent prepared but when they went there, they did what they could have done in the best way possible,” the president said.
Apart from picking up valuable ranking points at the last tournament, Joseph praised the level of fight displayed by the senior players.
“Antigua was the only team that gave St. Vincent a run for their money, and St. Lucia. So I can see if we were there in terms of fitness and proper preparation that we would have been a force to be reckoned with. I can see now that going forward, Antigua will continue to be a force to be reckoned with and the mentality the girls have now, we are going to get there,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda is now ranked 39 amongst 42 teams in the OECS and the Caribbean.