The Bajan Gems Under-23 netball team left yesterday for the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe in high spirits in spite of losing one of their starting players, Chiara Chase.
The utility player Chase, who was expected to start as a goal shooter or in the mid-court, suffered a knee injury at training. She has been replaced by Lashawna Franklyn who attended the Princess Margaret School, and plays wing defence, goal defence or goal keeper.
Chase, who attended the Christ Church Foundation School, made an impressive senior team debut at this year’s OECS Games in Dominica. It is uncertain if she will be fit enough to retain her spot in the senior team attending next month’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Coach Denise Alleyne expressed confidence in the team’s depth to rally in spite of losing Chase.
“Chiara was a part of our shooting squad and as one of our very talented upcoming players she was expected to plays roles in the mid-court as well.
“We will miss Chiara’s versatility but the team has great depth and the girls will step up to fill any gaps. We have worked really hard at this stage but we will be fine tuning at this stage with a view towards our first game against Trinidad and Tobago on Friday,” said Alleyne.
First timer Franklyn was thrilled to get the opportunity to represent the Gems. “Persons like Ms (Lynette) Holder and Ms (Juanita) Austin have helped me to develop my netball. I am from the Bay Land which has produced a lot of national netballers and I hope to use the chance to go even further in netball,” said Franklyn.
Along with the netballers heading to the games yesterday were some of the athletes, the judokas, swimmers and medical staff. Co-captain of the senior netball team Shonette Azore-Bruce saw the team off. (KB)