Ahead of the start of the 2022 Americas Netball World Cup Qualifiers in Kingston, Margaret Cutting, head coach of the Barbados Gems, believes that, in order for her team to book a spot at the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, their fitness level will have to improve.
“We’ve been doing really well with our preparations and I’m pleased with the point at which the girls are at right now. One of our problems, coming out of the Commonwealth Games, was our fitness, and we are working on improving that. By improving the fitness level, that will improve our ability to maintain possession of the ball and transition into defence. The games showed that the fitness level wasn’t at the point we wanted it to be because the girls lost focus and weren’t able to maintain netball possession,” said Cutting, whose team finished 12th overall at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Back in 2019, the world number 14th-ranked Barbados qualified for the Netball World Cup and went on to register a 12th-place finish following their 53-42 defeat to Scotland in the 11th- and 12th-place play-off. Coach Cutting, however, is confident that, three years later, the team which is now more experienced will have a much better showing.
“First of all, it’s a pleasure to be playing against the other teams from the Commonwealth region. However, we cannot underestimate any team and we will be taking it one game at a time, but I’m confident that we will qualify,” Cutting added.
As for the composition of the squad that is expected to battle the other eight competitors, in a bid to book one of two available spots at next year’s showpiece event, coach Cutting believes the team selected is one that is well balanced.
“It is a squad that is balanced with youth and experience and we have some really good players. We, however, lost some of our young players that we wanted to expose prior to the Commonwealth Games and, additionally, we also lost three players due to injury.”
Despite the loss of key players that would have been part of the core group for the Barbados Gems, the number three-ranked team in the region is expected to be among the top challengers in the tournament, vying for a spot at a third Netball World Cup after finishing 13th in 2015 at Sydney, Australia and 12th in 2019 at the Liverpool, England tournament.
The Americas Netball World Cup Qualifiers will take place from October 16-23.