Jamaica at the AFNA Championships in Trinidad & Tobago
Jamaica at the AFNA Championships in Trinidad & Tobago

World number four Jamaica have won the 2012 Americas Federation of Netball Association Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica beat hosts and defending champions Trinidad and Tobago in the final match of the competition on Saturday July 21, 60-40.

Americas Federation of Netball Association tournament at the Jean Pierre Complex in the Compound of the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Trinidad and Tobago, featured three of the world’s top ten netball nations and six other Americas teams. Adding to their ‘tough’ reputation – many of the matches were played on outdoor concrete courts. The number of teams in the AFNA tournament increased from six in 2010.

Winners Jamaica fielded a strong team including 198cm goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler, young guns Malysha Kelly and Sasha-Gaye Lynch as well as national captain Nadine Bryan and former Canterbury Tactix defender Kasey Evering. The Sunshine Girls were convincing over all their closest rivals – Crushing Barbados 65-37, St Lucia 72-31 and Canada 79-19.

Stalwarts Barbados and St Lucia made up the rest of the top four in what is considered to be the roughest and most flamboyant netball region in the world. Barbados upset Trinidad and Tobago 59-48 to finish second. Barbados is known for their crafty long bomb feeds into their goaling circle and spectacular intercepts in their defensive midcourt.

Despite the loss to Barbados, former world champions Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed good results. The flashy and uncompromising Calypso Girls tested Jamaica and thrashed teams like the USA and St Lucia who had given them some trouble in recent years. Their veteran goal shooter, the former UK Superleague player Anastascia Wilson, frequently scored close to 50 goals per game – although was well beaten in the final by the Jamaican defence. Defender Crystal-Ann George (the player who took the most intercepts at the 2007 World Netball Championships) was also in good form – helping the home side finish 3rd.

St Lucia competed with new coach and former Jamaican national side Connie Francis, who was controversially dumped from the Jamaican coaching job prior to the World Netball Championships last year. The team performed well finishing fourth with convincing wins over Canada and USA. Shem Maxwell, coach of the nation’s successful u/16 team, was a leading light for the side along with her goaling partner Indira Laurenain.

Due to lack of match play, Canada was the only other team coming into the tournament with a world ranking. They finished 5th beating USA, Guyana, Grenada and Bermuda. Canada was once a major part of the international netball scene and finished third at the 1988 World Netball Youth Cup. However, they have disappointingly fallen off the pace since – not qualifying for the World Championships since 2003.

USA was without their star goal shooter Georgina Hibbert and fell from 3rd in 2010 to 6th place. Netball is growing in the United States, but like Canada their elite teams need to work on their goal percentage and shooting techniques.

Coming out of the netball wilderness after many years were Grenada, Guyana and Bermuda – who all had mixed results among heavy losses.

Former Commonwealth Games qualifier, St. Vincent & The Grenadines were a disappointing omission from the tournament. So too Cayman Islands who have recently appointed ace Victorian coach Gillian Lee as head of their national team. Antigua and Barbuda was another absent side which has previously made the trip to the tournament. These three teams would have allowed for a two-tier competition and swelled the numbers of Americas teams with a world ranking.

Next up for Americas netball is Jamaica’s tour to the United Kingdom in September.

Final placings

  1. Jamaica
  2. Barbados
  3. Trinidad and Tobago
  4. St Lucia
  5. Canada
  6. USA
  7. Grenada
  8. Guyana
  9. Bermuda

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