T&T's senior netballers leave early this morning (Wednesday) for their series against Jamaica without ace shooter Samantha Wallace.
The goal-shooter, who recently returned from a hectic but successful season with the New South Wales Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) League in Australia, will not take part in the three-match series according to the president of T&T Netball Association (TTNA), Sherry-Ann Blackburn, on Tuesday.
Blackburn said, "Coming out of the series (SSN) and not having played for a bit, Sam opted out because of a concern for an injury that might be exasperated if exposed to intense play at the moment. So it was best that she sit out this tour to fully recover to go forward stronger."
The "Calypso Girls" were to be co-captained by the reigning Swifts "Most Valuable Player" along with fellow international goal-attack specialist Kalifa McCollin, who had her debut season with the Collingwood Magpies in the SSN, but the latter will lead the team solely with the support of newly installed vice-captain, veteran defender Crystal-Ann George.
They will take instructions from head coach Althea McCollin, who was somewhat disappointed that she will not have the services of star player Wallace against the "Sunshine Girls" and a Jamaican men's team, who replaced South Africa after the world's fifth-ranked team pulled out last week due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Jamaica.
"It's a bit disheartening," said coach McCollin. "The situation in itself, however, it leaves room for opportunity for another young budding player to come through. Sam will be with us, supporting from home and will always be a part of this unit."
The Margaret Beckford Series, which is scheduled to start Saturday to October 21 will see world 10th-ranked T&T take on the world's fourth-ranked "Sunshine Girls" in a three-match series and a Jamaican men’s team, who was included to facilitate the withdrawal of the "Proteas" in the Tri-Nation Series.
However, according to Netball Jamaica president Tricia Robinson, the men’s team will play only two matches in the series, one each against the "Calypso Girls" and the Connie Francis-coached "Sunshine Girls" and won’t be challenging or involved with the series between the top rival Caribbean teams.
The local team, which also includes Jameela McCarthy who last week signed a pro deal with the Saracens Mavericks as a defender to compete in England’s top netball competition, the Vitality Super Netball League in the upcoming season, will meet the Jamaicans led by ace shooter Jhaniele Fowler on Saturday in the opening clash, followed by matches on Monday and on October 20.
It is the first competition for T&T since 2019 due to the ongoing pandemic and it forms part of the "Calypso Girls" as well as Jamaica's preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, next year.
Team: Kalifa McCollin (captain), Crystal-Ann George (vice captain), Rayann Bristol, Afiya Vincent, Destiny Williams, Janeisha Cassimy, Shaquanda Greene -Noel, Oprah Douglas, Jameela McCarthy, Jeresia McEachrane, Aniecia Baptiste, Tia Bruno, Afeisha Noel
Technical staff: Althea Mc Collin (coach), Kemba Duncan (assistant coach),Ashelle Legall (manager), Jevon Foncette (physiotherapist), Demitri Villaroel (massage therapist)