Sport

J'cans upbeat ahead of NORCECA qualifiers

BY PAUL BURROWES Observer writer

Friday, December 07, 2012    

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FIRST-ROUND table toppers Jamaica will have to contend with Nicaragua, Suriname, and Bermuda in the second round of the 2014 NORCECA Women's World Championship qualifiers by June next year.

Head coach Gatasheu is intent on keeping the winning unit together, believing that the Shedeiky Hamilton Barnes-led ladies will go far in the rounds of the competition.

"...We will play bigger and better teams but if we keep working hard and keep improving, we should also qualify for the third and final round, so I am really excited that our dream is not an impossible one but very realistic," he said.

Bonner explains how his girls can deliver the goods in the second round.

"We have to keep this crop of players together, because they are young and athletic and will only get better from here. Then there are other players around that we will have a look at.

"The exciting thing about all this is that now, for the first time, there is a lot of good options available to us. And last but most important, we have to continue training hard and keep improving, because the second round will be much harder," added Bonner, a recent recipient of a level 2 coaching certificate.

First-round winners Nicaragua, who dominated Pool H, and Jamaica, who are unbeaten in Pool E, are the top teams in Pool M of the second round, sharing a world-ranking of 53. Suriname are at 64 and Bermuda on 74.

The date for the second round appears to be May 29 to June 3 in Jamaica.

With five of the girls based overseas and usually in the starting line-up, Bonner said there has to be a monitoring programme.

"We will send them a training programme to work with, for our local girls, we will continue training and they will be playing in our league competition," he said.

Local girls Cherie Thompson and Kamille Dwyer were members of the all-star team in the first round and the head coach admitted they stood out in the competition, along with overseas-based Lecia Brown, tournament MVP, and Avaniki Campbell.

Makini Thompson, skipper Barnes and Kai Wright, he noted, made their contribution.

Jamaica made it to the third round at the last World Championship qualification in 2010, only to finish third to Pool winners Puerto Rico and Canada.

Both Puerto Rico and Canada advanced to the World Championship four years ago in Japan, as two of the six NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) teams.

Bonner pointed out that it took a "complete team effort" to win the first round.

"Our team showed a lot of fight and they are determined to get better as we go along. Everyone shares the same dream and that is, qualify for the World Championship in 2014.

"I think this team is taller, more athletic, much younger and mentally stronger than any team we had before, and I expect the team to get even better as we go further in the qualifiers," Bonner emphasised.

The 2014 FIVB World Championship will take place in Italy with six teams qualifying from NORCECA.

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