National senior netballers will have a tough task on return to competition as the "Calypso Girls" will compete in a Tri-Nation series in October hosted by Jamaica..
This was confirmed by the T&T Netball Association (TTNA) president Sherry Ann Blackburn on Thursday and she added that the team will be boosted by T&T internationals Samantha Wallace and Kalifa McCollin, who are currently competing in Australia's Suncorp Super Netball League.
"We will play against Jamaica and South Africa from October 16-22. Presently we have just about 20 girls in training and Samantha and Kalifa, who are abroad in Australia, have both indicated their willingness to join the team to participate in this event," said Blackburn.
Goal-shooter Wallace has been starring for the New South Wales Swifts in her fifth season while McCollin, a goal-attack specialist, is making her debut in the league with the Collingwood Magpies.
Local players resumed training in mid-April under an interim coaching staff including coach Joel Young-Strong, assistant coach Velma Hazelwood, trainer Wayne Samuel, Coreen David (manager), Dr Liza Mohan -Watts (psychologist), Kem Meloney (physiotherapist) and Vern Browne (masseuse).
"We are also presently working on finalising the technical staff for that team and we should be completed with that process in about a week or two time," said Blackburn, who is aware of the huge challenge in facing the World's No 4-ranked "Sunshine Girls" and the No 5-ranked South Africans.
"There is no doubt that this Tri-Series would be a challenge for us. We are going up play against the fourth and fifth ranking teams in the World Cup. We are very optimistic about this Tri-Series. We look forward for it, we are preparing for it and we plan to compete strongly.
"We believe that we would make our mark in this tournament and we will utilise it going forward for any other major events that we have to participate in.
"But this tournament is coming at a good time and we plan to compete strong as I said."
There has been no netball competitions in T&T for over a year because of the on-going coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but according to the TTNA president all, that is necessary, is being done using various platforms to have the 10th-ranked "Calypso Girls" prepared for the Tri-Series.
She said, "Preparations are taking place virtually and very soon we are looking at a combination of training efforts which means we are hoping that we can do some face-to-face as well as virtual as we go along."
The national team will also be keen to see progress ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games set for Birmingham, England which see the top 12 ranked teams compete.
The International Netball Federation (INF) earlier this year delayed the qualification deadline for the Games in response to the pandemic. Eleven (11) of the 12 places will be determined by the world rankings to join England, who have automatically qualified as hosts.