2022 Commonwealth Games review: Barbados

AS the curtain closed on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. First up is Barbados, the 12th placed nation that was always up against it given it was the only nation not to have a player competing in any of the three majors netball competitions.


Barbados came into the 2022 Commonwealth Games as the lowest ranked nation competing at the event, so there were no expectations other than to be as competitive as possible for as long as possible. The Bajan Gems copped some rough defeats, particularly at the hands of Australia (78 goals) and Jamaica (79), as well as heavy defeats to both South Africa (55) and Scotland (44). The promising aspect was the final two games, with the loss to Wales – who had beaten Scotland – only being 16 goals. They scored over 40 goals for the first time in the tournament, then were competitive in patches against Trinidad & Tobago for the 11th placed playoff, but ultimately suffered a 63-31 defeat.


The two expected players who have been there and done it before in Shonette Azore-Bruce and Latonia Blackman were impressive in their respectively roles. Both are more than capable of playing up either end, but in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Azore-Bruce played in defence, and Blackman in attack. Both having turned or will turn 40 this year, there is every chance this was their last Commonwealth Games so they could hold their head high. Azore-Bruce finished with a team-high eight rebounds and 24 deflections for the tournament, while Blackman shot with the highest efficiency of 84.3 per cent, finishing second for total goals (58) and goal assists (41).


While the two veterans above will likely bow out of the international scene before too long, Barbados certainly has a high number of young players learning the ropes. A promising attacking talent is Brianna Holder who played out of wing attack but can slide up and step into goal attack too, in a similar role to the way the Roses will look to use Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in the future. She recorded the most feeds (100) and goal assists (51) comfortably, while scoring eight goals from 13 attempts. Defensively, Akeena Stoute is a name to remember for the next decade, with the almost 22-year-old recording eight intercepts (a team-high), and 15 deflections, as well as five rebounds and 19 feeds, able to play goal defence but also the potential for a wing defence role in the future.


Barbados finished exactly where many would have predicted pre-tournament, with the Bajan Gems just lacking that outstanding, consistent talent that most of the other nations have. In saying that, their veterans and youth have potential, and though it might be unlikely that the Carribean nation will rise too far up the world rankings, the fact the Bajan Gems have now qualified for both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games – and even toured Scotland last year – shows the country is serious about its netball.

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