Wed | Jan 22, 2020

Holmwood, Excelsior already thinking about AFNA tournament

Published:Sunday | December 15, 2019 | 12:48 AMRaymond Graham - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Graham-Powell
Graham-Powell

Last year, Excelsior walked away with top honours at the inaugural Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) tournament, which was held on local soil, after getting the better of Holmwood Technical 46-27.

At this year’s staging, Gaynstead, the country only representative at the championships, which was held in St Maarten, following the withdrawal of Denbigh, made it two wins from two attempts for Jamaican teams, after a 37-21 win over Christchurch from Barbados.

This year, Excelsior will by joined by Holmwood as the country’s representatives at the tournament after their recent ISSA Senior All-Island final, which Holmwood won 40-36 to avenge their 2017 defeat.

Both coaches, Carline Graham-Powell of Holmwood and Christopher Smart of Excelsior, are already looking forward to the regional tournament, scheduled for next summer, as they hope to continue the Jamaican dominance.

The Christiana-based Holmwood contingent will be determined to turn the tables this time around on their compatriots, and in their line-up will be at least three players, who were part of their second-place finishing team from two years ago.

“The girls had been talking about this tournament before the Rural finals and this was really a big motivation factor on their success this season,” said Graham-Powell. “We will be taking a break from training for the rest of the year, while myself and the management staff put plans in place for this tournament.”

The coach is confident that her team will take home the title this time around.

“Now after playing against Excelsior in the All-Island final, we had a feel of them and now know what they have to offer and we will be working out on what we have to do to go all the way,” she said.

For the 2017 champions Excelsior, it will be a brand new team which will be aiming for their second AFNA title.

MORE CHALLENGING

“We did not bring home the All-Island title this time around, but I am still proud of my girls, because they defied the odds and reached the final and are now motivated to try and regain our title. I know this time it will be more challenging as we are not looking on Holmwood alone who are our main challengers, but also on other Caribbean teams,” said Smart.

Like his Holmwood counterpart, Smart stated that his team will be taking a break.

“The girls will be taking a break for the rest of the year as we have some six months to go. It is an expensive trip, so I will sit down with my management team to plan on how we are going to realise the funds to make it possible,” Smart stated.