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Unhappy Barker leads U-16s to Carib tourney

Published: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Former national captain Janelle Barker is back as coach of the T&T youth team that will be competing at the Caribbean Netball Association’s Jean Pierre Under-16 Tournament in Barbados from March 31-April 10.

Her transition from player to coach was a rough one as in her coaching debut, the local team placed sixth in the seven-team tournament held last year in Castries, St Lucia. Barbados emerged champion followed by Dominica and Grenada, respectively.

But as devastating as the end result was, Barker is still encouraged despite a number of disadvantages that she is facing presently as she will go it alone on the coaching staff.

“I don’t think the association (T&T Netball Association) knows what is needed for a team to succeed. They have no idea what the kids need to prepare. They have not provided for them. It’s just myself and the manager. No assistant coach, no physiotherapist, no trainer,” said a frustrated Barker yesterday.

The junior team started training in November and Barker said she is doing the best with what she has to work with. Though being in such a difficult position, Barker’s aim is to get them prepared for the competition, named after the renowned international netballer, the late Jean Pierre of T&T, which started in 1998.

“As of now the players are not very motivated. It’s hard for them to be if the staff is not motivated either. Right now I am doing everything that I can do to get the players to where they need to be. 

“I am trying to get them fit and mentally ready. The association is falling short. They need psychological training. They are young and to get them ready mentally they need to have someone speak to them. It’s like everytime we make two steps forward, we end up five steps backward.”

T&T has never won the title. The last time T&T finished among the top three was in 2012 when it placed third behind Barbados and St Lucia, respectively. The highest position it has ever reach was second in 2001, 2000 and the inaugural year. 

“I am not too happy with the situation but I am trying. It’s better to try and fail than not try at all,” said Barker, who also serve as the national goal-shooter.

The junior squad trains three days a week, 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8 am to 12 noon Saturday’s and next week, it will start competing in practice matches as the tournament draws closer. 

Barker says the final team will be named later this week.

Tournament history

Year    Host    Champion    2nd    3rd

2015    St Lucia    Barbados    Dominica    Grenada

2014    Antigua/Barbuda    Jamaica    Barbados    SVG

2013    No Tournament

2012    SVG    Barbados    St Lucia    T&T   

2011    St Kitts    St Lucia    Barbados    T&T   

2010    Barbados    Jamaica    Barbados    T&T

2009    Jamaica    Jamaica    Barbados    T&T    

2008    Antigua & Bar    Jamaica    T&T    SVG

2007    No Tournament (World Tournament)

2006    T&T    Jamaica    Barbados    T&T

2005    St Kitts    Barbados    Jamaica    St Kitts

2004    St Lucia    Jamaica    St Kitts    Barbados

2003    No Tournament (World Tournament)

2002    Grenada    Jamaica    Barbados    St Lucia

2001    SVG    Jamaica    T&T    St Lucia

2000    Jamaica    Jamaica    T&T    SVG

1999    Barbados    SVG    Barbados    St Lucia

1998    Antigua/Barbuda    Jamaica    T&T    Barbados

Rachael King

Rachael.king@guardian.co.tt