It had the potential to be the most awkward conversation and my colleague wanted no part of it. When we arrived at the sports complex in Castries, he urged me to go talk to the young lady about what he perceived was the most sensitive of issues. And such delicate matters needed a woman’s touch. Naturally. I stalked away impatiently, albeit a bit nervous; I wanted the interview but did not want to offend our potential subject. The cloak and dagger routine was not necessary. Lindy Shaniece Marshall was nonplussed as I carefully explained my purpose, in fact she was overly enthused.
Marshall is currently trying out for the national under-23 netball team. She plays the positions of wing defense and wing attack on the trial squad. And she’s doing this singlehandedly: she only has a right hand. The nineteen year old from Cacao, Babonneau, was born with the defect and is unaware of the reason. Quite frankly, she’s just not interested.
“Everybody always asks what’s wrong but I never questioned my mother because it never bothered me. Before, people used to give me jokes but I never really took it on. Sometimes when I’m walking in town, it’s like I don’t have anything wrong but when I see people staring at me then I remember.”
As a former student of the Bocage Combined School and Bocage Secondary School, Marshall participated in track and field and played volleyball. But it’s netball that has been her passion ever since she took it up in grade five.
“I just liked the fact that it occupied me on an afternoon and I liked competing against other schools.”
After her last match as a student in form five, she wanted to continue playing, and pursued an opportunity with one of her mentors, Lindell Ford, coach and player of the Avengers Netball Club.
“I first saw Lindy at the inter-secondary schools tournament as an umpire,” shared Ford. “She was willing to play the game but didn’t have the skills as a player to develop in that netball arena. And I’m seeing a young, energetic and bold person with her capabilities and disabilities, coming into the game and not even shying off. So I decided to take her into my club, train her a bit more and to nurture her talent so she could blossom into a netballer and one day play for the club or St Lucia.”
Ford is pleased with the progression of her pupil.
“She’s now on the national under-23 level trial squad. She has shown us great growth in her ability and her skills. Everyday we see her improving a lot. With her potential and determination, we see that she has a fair chance like everyone else of making the side.”
Even more impressive, said her coach, is her determination to be treated as an equal and her refusal to beg off on certain elements of their training regimen.
“We have training sessions and some of the skills require you to use both hands. Even though we do push-ups and we do one-handed push-ups, she will not say let me do one hand. She will do the stub, and the other hand. When the skill requires alternating hands she will do the same. She never says ‘You don’t see I have one hand?’ She makes an effort with every ball that you give her, never backs down, never shies away. So she’s not afraid of what she has and to use it. It’s a lesson for us, telling us make the best of what we have. And if a lot of us use that as our motto we’ll reach far.”
Marshall has big dreams and emulates a pint-sized Olympic powerhouse, for her own abilities to overcome adversity.
“I want to know what it’s like to explore the world, to go different places to play for St. Lucia. I watched the movie about Gabrielle Douglas. I classify her as a role model because at first she grew up in a poor family which I did as well. But it never bothered her and she figured that it’s not because you grow up like that, that you cannot succeed in life. And that’s what i’m looking forward to.”
She will know her fate in a few months, but in the meantime, she works on her game and has pinpointed areas to tweak.
“So far it’s good, but I believe I could push myself a bit more. I don’t think I’m giving it my all. I want to take practice more seriously and pay attention.”
Off the court, she loves babysitting and counts dancing as another one of her interests. Further down the line she plans to return to school.
Marshall has a positive outlook on life and wants others to know it’s all about the mindset.
“I want to say to all those out there who think that life is difficult, all we have to do is think about it, pray and whatever we believe is what we get out of life,” she says.
Coach Ford continues to marvel at her spunk and ‘joie de vivre’.
“I think if a lot of us had the kind of confidence that child exhibits at training and otherwise, we would reach a long way.”