INF world ranking: 12
World Cups played: 8
Highest World Cup finish: 6
Barbados – also known as the Bajan Gems – first appeared at the Netball World Championships (as it was known then) in 1979 and have played at eight World Cups. Their highest placing was in 1987 when they finished in joint sixth place with the Cook Islands.
Twelfth in the world, the Bajan Gems put on an impressive performance at their regional qualifier, winning every match bar one (against Trinidad and Tobago) to qualify for Liverpool. They will face Singapore in their opening match in the first session of the tournament on Friday 12 July.
Netball is the sport of choice for females in Barbados. From the age of eight, girls are exposed to the sport through school competitions and tournaments which continue into their secondary curriculum. Barbados has over 70 teams and netball is a vibrant and permanent fixture on the country’s sporting calendar.
Ones to watch
Centre and wing attack for the Gems, Damisha Croney has been playing netball for 18 years. Croney was introduced to the sport whilst still in the womb – her mother played whilst pregnant with Croney and the obsession with the sport stuck. When asked how she feels about being able to play for her nation, Croney said; “I feel honoured to be a national representative. Each time I am selected to represent Barbados I am filled with the same joy and pride that I had when I was selected for the first time.” Croney has already experienced the ferocity of the international stage having played for Barbados at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, and 2011 Netball World Cup.
Nikita Payne always knew she wanted to be an athlete. As a child, she played a range of different sports, but chose to focus on netball which she describes as “fast-paced, exciting and a true team sport”. Payne was just 17 years old when she first represented the Bajan Gems, playing the position of goal attack. Having started her netball career at such a young age, Payne has a wealth of experience playing against the top teams in the world and has made the starting line-up at three World Cups: 2007, 2011 and 2015, as well as two Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014.