National team manager, Mary Webb, was looking for an opponent to help Canada prepare for the Americas Federation of Netball Associations’ (AFNA) championship last July when she made the call to the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) for a warm-up match just days before the regional tournament in the twin-island republic.
Webb got more than she bargained for as the university side defeated Canada’s senior team 48-45.
Based on this performance, local teams knew they were in for quite a challenge when they learned the Trinidadians had accepted an invitation to participate in the just concluded five-team Midnight Madness competition in Malvern.
Official Outreach Netball on the Move and North York Netball Club, which fielded two teams, collaborated to host the five-team competition that also included Scarborough Knights and Mississauga Blue Stars. The tourists also participated in a few exhibition games.
The UTT side played unbeaten with goalkeeper Daystar Swift winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Swift has travelled lightning fast since being introduced to the sport just four years ago. She was a member of the T & T junior team that took part in the World Under-21 competition in the Cook Islands in 2009.
“I am obviously happy with my performance but, more importantly, it was quite an experience for myself and teammates to come to Toronto and showcase our talent,” she said.
The 6’ 3” Swift represented T & T in soccer as a goalkeeper at the Under-17 level before UTT netball coach, Bridget Adams, encouraged her to switch to netball.
“Her height was the thing that stood out when I first saw her,” said Adams who is a former T & T player/coach. “Daystar, however, could not stand up with the ball which you have to do in netball so she had to be taught the basics. She’s a quick learner and hard worker and it’s only a matter of time before she’s representing our country at the senior level.”
Enrolled in UTT’s Bachelor of Education program, Swift aspires to be a physical education teacher.
“I love working with young people and engaging in physical activity, so that job will be the perfect fit for me,” she said.
Swift and her teammates returned home last Sunday.
This was just the second overseas tour the netball team has undertaken since the university’s Academy of Sports & Leisure program was established five years ago. The UTT team won the Florida Netball Classic Invitation Under-19 and Zoneball competition in Fort Lauderdale four years ago.
“The program targets student athletes with the aim of developing their potential in their chosen sports disciplines,” said team manager, Dr. Myrna Ransome, who is an assistant professor at the university.
UTT received a major boost this month when Olympic javelin gold medallist, Keshorn Walcott, turned down American offers and accepted a full scholarship to attend the university. He’s enrolled in the Certificate in Sports Studies program.
By RON FANFAIR