The Sydney 2015 captains gathered at Luna Park last night to mark the beginning of the sport’s pinnacle event, the Netball World Cup, on Friday (today local time), with Jamaica opening their account against Samoa.With the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, the NWC 2015 captains looked ahead to the 10-day tournament, with all nations taking the court in day-one action.Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados are the other Caribbean teams participating in the tournament. T&T play their opening game against Australia, while Barbados tackle New Zealand in their opening match.The World Cup returns to Australian soil after 24 years, with Australian and international fans expected to flock to Sydney Olympic Park for the 14th staging of the event.Candle lightingPrior to the captains’ call, players gathered for the official Candle Lighting ceremony, a tradition dating back to the first official World Cup in Eastbourne, England, in 1963.During the ceremony, each team captain lights a candle – a symbol of friendship and goodwill – and commits to honour the spirit of the game.The much-respected Candle Lighting Ceremony is a sacred tradition of the NWC and gives players and officials the opportunity to honour the past, present and future of the sport before they take to the court to compete for the ultimate prize – the World Cup.The tournament takes place at Allphones Arena and Netball Central, venues within Sydney Olympic Park.The captains are Nicole Aiken-Pinnock (Jamaica), Laura Geitz (Australia), Rhe-Ann Niles (Barbados), Geva Mentor (England), Mere Rabuka Neiliko (Fiji), Caroline Mtukule (Malawi), Casey Kopua (New Zealand), Juliana Naoupu-Laban and Opheira Harder-Karatau (Samoa), Hayley Mulheron (Scotland), Qingyi Lin (Singapore), Maryka Holtzhausen (South Africa), Semini Alwis (Sri Lanka), Joelisa Cooper (Trinidad and Tobago) and Peace Proscovia (Uganda).
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has strongly condemned United States President Donald Trump’s use of “derogatory and repulsive” language to describe Member State, Haiti, and other developing African countries.At an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation on Thursday, Trump is reported to have asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” referring to countries like Haiti, El Salvador and other African nations. He was reportedly questioning why there are so many immigrants from those countries when the US should be accepting citizens from nations like Norway.The Caricom Secretariat at Liliendaal, Greater GeorgetownAlthough the controversial President has denied making the comments attributed to him, the reports have provoked widespread global outrage.Caricom on Saturday issued a statement, saying that it is deeply disturbed by the unenlightened views reportedly expressed by the US President. The regional body added that it is further saddened that such narrative has emerged around the time of the anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake which took so many Haitian lives.“Of additional concern, is this pattern of denigrating Haiti and its citizens in what seems to be a concerted attempt to perpetuate a negative narrative of the country,” Caricom asserted.To this end, Caricom extended full support for the response made by the Government of the Republic of Haiti in reaction to Trump’s highly offensive reference. It went on to remind the United States that Haitians, in many spheres, continue to contribute significantly to the global community, and particularly to that North American country.“Caricom therefore views this insult to the character of the countries named and their citizens as totally unacceptable,” the statement outlined.Following reports of the statements attributed to Trump, which was confirmed by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was also in the meeting, Haiti’s Government issued a strongly worded statement, condemning what it described as the “racist” view of not only Haitian immigrants but also those from African countries.“The Haitian Government condemns in the strongest terms these abhorrent and obnoxious remarks which, if proven, reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States,” President Jovenel Moïse’s Administration posited.Trump tweeted on Friday that while his language was “tough”, he did not say anything derogatory about Haitians except that Haiti is obviously a very poor and troubled country. He added too in the social media post that he has a “wonderful” relationship with Haitians.Meanwhile, the controversy continues to cause widespread global fallout since at least two US diplomats around the world have being summoned to clarify the reported comments.The US chargé d’affaires in Haiti, Robin Diallo, met with President Moïse, to discuss the remarks. Additionally, the Government of Botswana summoned the US ambassador to express displeasure at what it called “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist” comments.Moreover, the United Nations has also issued a strongly worded statement, in which it said it was impossible to describe President Trump’s remarks as anything other than racist. At a news briefing in Geneva, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said, “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”In addition, the African Union, a group representing the continent’s 55 countries, said it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s statement, demanding the US President to apologise for this “racist” remarks.