It’s all coming together for national youth netball coach Sojourner “Suzie” Hyles as she prepares the Under-23 team for the inaugural Caribbean Games set to take place in Guadeloupe from June 29 - July 3.
The former national senior and junior player has been working with the unit for the past five months along with the former national captain and shooter Simone Morgan as an assistant coach.
“I appreciate the opportunity as coach of the T&T U-23 female netball team,” said Hyles about her recent appointment. Both she and Morgan were confirmed in their respective positions recently along with Vanessa Forde as manager, Shenice Gittens (massage therapist) and trainers Khalid Crichlow and Roland Hamilton.
The technical staff started off working with some 50 players, now trimmed to 17. National senior players Tia Bruno and Destiny Williams are among the players still in contention for selection to the U-23 team which will represent the country at the first Caribbean Games. The pair made their debut with the “Calypso Girls” last year in the tour Jamaica at the Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series. The “Calypso Girls” were swept (3-0).
However, the exposure they gained while playing at the top level is expected to enhance the youth team, which trains four days per week. On Mondays the squad do physical work, Tuesdays are the pool workouts, Wednesdays, they are at the gym and Saturdays, apart from being used for practice matches, the players engage in fundamental work and assessment playing-wise.
“The training is rigorous. We’re focusing on match readiness mentally,” said Hyles who wants her players to buy into her philosophy of showing, “Maturity on and off the field, with the ability to read the game and anticipate opponents’ passes. We are training towards this both, on the court and through blackboard sessions.”
The former national defender is using every means necessary, to get the outcome she desires, even bringing in a dietician who she feels will be key to the players performing at their peak.
“We will also be having some video sessions highlighting each third of the court so that players can see where they need to improve,” said Hyles as she detailed her approach to the competition which they will face at the Laura Flessel Sports Centre in Petit-Bourg.
“We will be treating all teams with a level of respect. Each game will be strategised from the point of view of analysing the opponents’ players and studying them before the game. This will be done by watching them play prior to meeting them.
“With the harder or more experienced countries, we will concentrate on our attacking play and shooters to ensure we score with our centre pass and then aim to cut at least two passes in each quarter from the opponent.”
Hyles, having represented T&T for some 10 years in netball, has great respect for the countries she has competed against and intends to learn from them and transfer this knowledge to her players, saying: “We’ve been viewing tapes of countries such as Malawi, Jamaica and South Africa since their styles and success rate are better than ours at present.”
Although, this is her first stint as a T&T coach, the former national basketballer and rugby player, has served previously as a physiotherapist and fitness trainer with the national U-19 and U-16 netball teams.
Training squad: Rehanna Ali, Annabella Augustine, Jillisa Briggs, Rayann Bristol, Tia Bruno, Tiana Dillon, Akiema Estrada, Kelelicia George, Katty Ann Precious Graham, Faith Hagley, Chinaka Lindsay, Shaniya Morgan, Thema Moses, Akeela O'Neil, Nicollette Osborne, Destiny Williams, Ebony Williams.
Technical Staff: Coach: Sojourner Hyles (coach), Simone Morgan (assistant coach), Vanessa Forde (manager), Shenice Gittens (massage therapist), Khalid Crichlow (trainer), Roland Hamilton (trainer).