Former world champions, the T&T “Calypso Netballers” will come up against the top two teams in the world, host Australia and New Zealand in Pool A round-robin play at next year’s 14th Netball World Cup in Sydney Australia, from August 7-16.
This will be the second time that the World Championships are being held in Sydney, and the third time in Australia. Sydney last hosted the event in 1991, when Australia won a closely contested final against New Zealand.
All matches will be played at the 21,000 seat Allphones Arena (formerly known as the Sydney SuperDome and Acer Arena), Sydney Olympic Park.
T&T who won the American Federation of Netball Association (AFNA) world title back in 1979 as joint winners with the Aussies and New Zealand will also go head-to-head with Caribbean rivals Barbados, who they have beaten in their last three meetings.
Pool B of the 2015 Championship features world third and fourth ranked teams, England and Jamaica as well as Scotland and Samoa while Malawi, South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka comprise Pool C, and the quartet of Fiji, Wales, Uganda and Zambia make up Pool D.
Australia qualified automatically as host along with the next five highest ranked teams from the 2011 Championship inclusive of New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Malawi and South Africa.
The other 11 teams qualified via their regional qualifying competitions, with T&T topping Barbados in the AFNA qualifiers which were held in Alberta, Canada, in August.
The Australians are the defending champions having won the title for a record tenth three years ago while second-ranked New Zealand have captured the top prize on four ocassions, the last being in 2002 while it has ended in second spot no fewer than seven times, including the last two editions.
Australia is also the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medal winners after beating major rival New Zealand in the final earlier this year, 58-40.
It will be the second straight time the Pepe Gomes coached T&T women will face New Zealand in the group stages, having gone under to the Kiwis, 23-75 in 2007 while beating Wales (51-48) and Fiji (58-40) at the Singapore National Stadium.
The “Calypso Netballers” were then upstaged by Jamaica 42-79 in the quarterfinals and also went under to Malawi, 38-61 in their fifth to eight place semifinal ahead of its 56-38 beating of Northern Ireland for seventh spot in the 16-team tournament.
But despite the tough draw, T&T coach Wesley “Pepe” Gomes said he was quite happy with the opponents his team would face.
“My aim is for us to finish among the top six and if you want to be among the best you have to beat the best teams in the world.
“They have been the top teams in the world for a while now but we have been preparing as hard as we can.”
Currently, Gomes has a core of players in training and with the World Championships set for July he is hoping to get in some international matches and possibly two overseas tours.
“We know things are tough when it comes to financial support, but we are looking at some matches in Europe against Wales, Scotland and Ireland in early May and then some against the Jamaicans just before we head to Australia,” Gomes said.
“Our plans were to play some matches against Barbados but with us being drawn in the same pool and beating them on the last three to four times we have played each other, I don’t think they will agree to it this time around.”
Last night the T&T women continued training with another session at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo and depending on the availability of the venue will train again tomorrow morning or Monday afternoon from 6 pm to 8 pm to close out before the Christmas.
Gomes added: “The girls have been really committed to training but we are still having some issues in getting the facilities to train as much as we would hope for.
“Since our return from the AFNA Championships in Alberta, Canada, where we won the title, the players had a little break and have been training since. They will get the break for the Christmas and then we resume or programme on January 2, 2015.”
The T&T coach also praised the younger players who have been in training for their efforts.
“There are a few young players training with us and even though they may not make the final team for the major tournaments, training with their senior peers will help them to prepare well for Under-21 tournaments and I hope they take as much knowledge from the senior players as possible.
At the World Championship, the top two teams from each preliminary pool will qualify to the “first eight” second round series while the bottom two teams in each pool will play in the “second eight” competition.
And at the end of the end of the first eight second round two groups, the top two in each qualify to the semifinals, the ther bottom two battle for fifth to eight.
And the teams in the second eight groups will play round robin match, followed by crossover playoffs.
Preliminary round groups:
Pool A: No 1 Australia, No 2 New Zealand, No 10 Barbados, No 9 T&T
Pool B: No 3 England, No 4 Jamaica, No 12 Scotland, No 14 Samoa
Pool C: No 5 Malawi, No 6 South Africa, No 19 Singapore, No 24 Sri Lanka
Pool D: No 7 Fiji, No 8 Wales, No 13 Uganda, No 18 Zambia
Pool E: A-1, B-2, C-1, D-2
Pool F: A-2, B-1, C-2, D-1
NB: Top two teams from each pool qualify to the semifinals while the bottom two qualify to the fifth to eight playoffs.
Pool G: A-3, B-4, C-3, D-4
Pool H: A-4, B-3, C-4, D-3
At the end of the second eight matches, the teams will then face off in the playoff matches for positions ninth to 16th.
Year Host Placing
1963 England 4th
1967 Australia 5th
1971 Jamaica 4th
1975 New Zealand 4th
1979 T&T Joint 1st with Aus/NZ
1983 Singapore 3rd
1987 Scotland Joint 2nd
1991 Australia DNP
1995 England 6th
1999 New Zealand 8th
2003 Jamaica 10th
2007 New Zealand 11
2011 Singapore 7th