Just three teams have lifted the Netball World Cup trophy in the tournament’s 60-year history. Two of them are powerhouses of the sport – Australia and New Zealand – but the third is a little less predictable – Trinidad and Tobago.
The tiny island nation boast that unique distinction, having shared the title with Australia and New Zealand in 1979. Back then the tournament was played over two round-robin group stages with no playoffs, and after the three nations all finished with eight wins and one loss, they were declared joint winners.
That legacy still lives on in the Caribbean team, with one of the members of that successful side, Peggy Castanada, still involved on the coaching side, helping out in the shooting circle.
Castanada knows a thing or two about shooting. Trinidad and Tobago scored the most goals in the 1979 tournament with 658 to their name at an average of 54.8 per match.
“We have Ms Peggy Castanada coming in and assisting us in the shooting department and imparting great knowledge to our shooters,” explained Trinidad and Tobago head coach Joel Young-Strong – a former international umpire.
“It is always a very humbling and proud moment when you are reminded of this great accomplishment [the 1979 victory].
“I believe that it is not out of our reaches again, but we have to start from the ground up and build different and strong foundations.”
While getting their hands back on the trophy may be an unrealistic aim at the Netball World Cup 2023, Young-Strong is targeting a rapid rise in the rankings.
“We hope to break back into the top 10 in a significant way.
“Just as Tonga came from nowhere and is seventh, we are targeting one of these ranked positions,” she said. Trinidad and Tobago have always had a style that is unique and I think that hasn’t changed.
“We play a very aerial game, with some measure of flare – and now we have added a little bit of an Australian technique because of the influence of our technical director who is from Australia.”
Trinidad and Tobago have been grouped in Pool D along with Uganda and Singapore, and defending champions New Zealand.
“It will be an uphill battle in this group. We are not taking any team lightly and we will take each game with a different strategy,” said Young-Strong.
Co-captain of the side Afeisha Noel is also expecting a tough challenge in the group.
“Playing Uganda and New Zealand in the 2022 Commonwealth Games last year, and losing to them has really given me a drive to want to do better,” she said.
“I have been playing and thinking about strategies about how to improve or score against them.
“As for Singapore, I haven’t played against them before, so I’m not sure how the matchup will be but, being honest, I am hyped and excited to see what the outcome will be.”
The Calypso Girls play the opening match of the tournament against New Zealand on 28 July with a clash against Singapore the following day before they come up against Uganda on 30 July.
Speaking about Africa hosting the event for the first time, Young-Strong added: “This is a great opportunity for Africa to have the World Cup staged at home because, as everyone can see, African netball is on the rise,” said Young-Strong.
Trinidad and Tobago know all about the boost that hosting the Netball World Cup can be for the home side – that famous 1979 tournament having been held in Port of Spain. It is definitely a big boost to host any tournament on home soil.
“Imagine having tens of thousands of support behind you. That in itself is a great motivation, and it encourages you as a team to put on a great show for your people.”
Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.
Photo: Afeisha Noel at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Courtesy: World Netball