It's been a while that the T&T senior netball team has been at the top of their game—32 years, to be exact—and it's no small irony that they are kicking some butt in the sports complex named after the captain of that world-beating team. The 2012 Americas Federation Netball Association (AFNA) Senior Netball Championships, which started last weekend and will have the final tomorrow at the Jean Pierre Complex, Port-of-Spain, are key for national teams looking to improve their world ranking and seeking qualification for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Jamaica (4th), T&T (8th) and Barbados (10th) are the region's top teams on the IFNA list, with no other AFNA member countries currently in the top 30. And the disparity shows, with some very lop-sided scores in the early games. The top three teams outscored the bottom three of Bermuda, Grenada and Guyana by over 1,000 goals in the first four matches.
The game has changed since the T&T heyday of the 70s and 80s, but T&T has never fallen so far out of the top ten in a sport played by 74 national teams affiliated to the worldwide governing body, IFNA, which reports that over 20 million people currently play netball. Minimum wage in the ANZ Championship, which comprises five teams each from Australia (1st) and New Zealand (2nd) is $61,000 and salaries for top players can go as high as $254,000 for a 17-week competitive tournament season. Comparatively, the budget for this AFNA championship is reported to be $400,000, which includes the cost of the T&T team's uniform and playing gear. With a pair of shoes costing around $1,000, and 12 women on the team...maybe T&T's eight-place ranking ain't so bad, coming to think of it? Good luck T&T ladies (I honestly cannot call a team with women who are, five inches taller than I am “Calypso Girls". Eh Eh), and keep racking up the wins and hope to see you playing in the final tomorrow.