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Joelisa Cooper:When the Lioness Roars

Sunday, May 14 2017

TRINIDAD and Tobago netball captain, Joelisa Cooper wants her son to learn some of the traits that the sport has taught her, pinpointing discipline and preparation as recipes for success.

Joelisa, a goal attack and goal shoot for TT and Police, is also the mother of five-year-old Jacelon Adams and a crime scene investigator at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Joelisa is among a select few to lead TT at a Netball World Cup, resulting in a ninth-place finish at the 2015 edition in Sydney, Australia.

Joelisa, who started playing netball at age nine under the guidance of Enid Browne, said the sport has taught her valuable life lessons which she hopes Jacelon will emulate.

“Most importantly I would say discipline - discipline, discipline, discipline. I am very competitive and the ball will not always roll into your court all the time. Sometimes you lose, but you must have the mindset that ‘I lost this time or the person outplayed me this time, but the next time that is not going to happen.’ The discipline of sticking to a time schedule and sticking to what you are doing and doing that until you accomplish it.”

Joelisa explained it is important to understand that preparation is key to succeed in life. “Discipline is a wide umbrella, the aspect of training and preparing yourself for something is important. You can’t just appear one day and say, ‘Hey I could real jump.’ Or in his school work he can’t say ‘I real smart or I know this’, you have to prepare yourself both physically and mentally.”

Joelisa, who captained the Morvant Laventille Secondary School team, reflected on the first time she played for TT as a junior athlete.

“My first coach Miss Enid Browne, she groomed us actually for the national team because her objective was always to make the national team. The time that she said, ‘you are now okay to go and try out for the national team’ was for the Under-16 national team, when I was the age of 15.”

Joelisa said balancing her netball career, her job and motherhood is challenging at times but says she has learned how to prioritise.

“It is a bit challenging, but what I do really well is prioritise. My first thing on the list is him (Jacelon). He is with me all the time, all of my national training and Police service training also. It is a bit challenging sometimes, because of course he has homework and projects to do. It is basically trying to manage our time because outside of my schedule, he has a time table also. So far, however, it has been working out really well.”

Joelisa, who admires the late Jean Pierre and Irene van Dyk of New Zealand, says she feels sad to leave her son to compete in tournaments overseas.

Joelisa was back on the court mere months after he was born and says her support system made that possible.

“It is really difficult (to leave him). When I had him in 2011, we had a tournament here in Trinidad in 2012. After having him I came back to the court when he was three months. It was extremely difficult when I was away from him. The tournament was here, thank God, so his dad brought him to all the games. My first time leaving him we went to South Africa. That was extremely hard because I am a very territorial person. I am like a lioness when it comes to him so I am always over the shoulder of everybody who has him. The first time I left him I literally cried I would admit, but I knew that he was in good hands of course with my mom and his dad. I called every single chance I got and messaged to make sure that he was okay.

“What keeps me going is that I am doing something for my country and I am trying to make him proud also.”

Jacelon may also represent this country soon. Joelisa revealed her son, who is always by her side, is showing athletic ability in cricket, football and basketball, and is a favourite among her teammates.

“He grew up on the court, he knows all the players, all the players know him.”

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