<' />

It is 6.30am in San Juan, Trinidad. Still feeling the effects of the previous night's gruelling netball training, Anika La Roche takes time to rise.

She can't delay the inevitable for long though, she needs to get herself up and organised for work, and out the door by 7.45am so she can get her 12-year-old son Jabari to school on time.

The drive to the San Juan Seventh Day Adventist school is not a long one, in truth Jabari could walk, but as La Roche may not see her son at the other end of the day, the time she spends with him in the morning is precious.

Once she factors in her fulltime job policing Trinidad's crime-ridden streets and netball training, which involves a one-hour return commute to the country's capital, Port of Spain, she will be lucky to get home again before 10pm.

La Roche says she is fortunate she has relatives to help care for Jabari.

"He's mature for 12 as well, he knows his schedule, he's accustomed to it because I've been doing it since he was a toddler, so he knows what to expect."

Her job as a constable with the local police is a dangerous one, she says on any given day she may have to put her life on the line. But she believes it is no more dangerous than policing in any other country.

The statistics tell a different story. Over the past decade there has been a huge surge in crime and gang-related violence, escalated by poverty, high unemployment rates and a pervasive drug culture.

There were 485 murders on the twin island nation last year - or about 1.3 a day - which saw Trinidad and Tobago overtake Jamaica as the murder capital of the Caribbean. La Roche can't afford to take the troubles of her job away with her when she clocks out of the station at 5pm. She must report to her national team's training at 5.30pm - a difficult ask when the training venue is a 30 minute drive away.

The Trinidad and Tobago side are fortunate to train at the country's only indoor court, most of their games at club level are still played outside, the searing Caribbean heat making the concrete surface unforgiving.

La Roche's country were heavyweights in world netball in the late 70s and early 80s but now sit around eighth in the world. The game has progressed a lot in the past 30 years and the Calypso Girls have been slow to move with that progression. But La Roche, the team's vice-captain, firmly believes they can rise to the top again.

Her team are committed to making improvement, they train for up to 3 hours, four nights a week in the lead-up to the Singapore world championships, which means she rarely gets home before 10pm.

The slight defender can't remember the last time she went out for a nice meal with her husband Chris Brice, a former top national league soccer player.

Both their birthdays she spent at training - but given Brice was a top athlete himself, he understands.

"Everybody wants me-time, but everybody has to live for what they believe in, and I believe in doing this," says La Roche. "Every night before I go to bed, I think about how blessed I am."

AS La Roche turns in for the night, on the other side of the world in Wellington, Irene van Dyk is doing what she is known all around New Zealand for - shooting goals.

Her husband Christie had a goal post installed right outside the kitchen, and in between training runs and trips to the gym, she will often go outside for 20 minutes or so and put up some shots.

Soon she will drive to the train station and collect her 13-year-old daughter Bianca, who is in her first year of high school at Wellington Girls' College.

When they return, van Dyk will again take her position under the hoop, this time shooting goals with Bianca, who aspires to be a Silver Fern - just like her mum.

Already 1.86m, Netball New Zealand will be watching Bianca's development closely.

Van Dyk does not consider this training, it is simply about spending time with her daughter. She has already devoted much of her day to netball.

By 10am she is in the gym with her long-time trainer, Hugh Biss, who the 39-year-old credits with helping her achieve such remarkable longevity in the sport.

The "full-on" session generally lasts around 1 hours, and after nine years training his star client, Biss knows how to get the best out her.

She heads home at about lunchtime to grab a quick bite to eat and unwind after the morning's training.

Van Dyk doesn't have much time to put her feet up though, she still has to squeeze in a 45-minute run at some point in the afternoon. And while she is not a natural runner, and finds no joy in the pursuit, her work ethic is such that she can't bring herself to miss one.

Even when resting, van Dyk's brain will be switched in to netball mode.

The afternoon is spent reviewing the video of the previous weekend's ANZ Championship game, which has been cut up by the Magic's video analyst.

This gives her an idea of what she and the team need to work on at training the next day, when she will fly up to join them in Hamilton.

It is a trip she knows well, having done the commute for the past eight years and she has the routine down pat.

The star shooter, who in her 10 years in the Silver Ferns has scored a quarter of the country's total goals since test netball began in 1938, uses the time to answer fan mail and sign her name to various cards and notes, which have been forwarded on by both the Magic and Ferns management.

Whenever the time allows she tries to write personal messages to her supporters to let them know how honoured and privileged she feels to receive their letters.

"I'm just one of the lucky ones," she says.

ON Wednesday night in Singapore the two netballers cross paths at the world championships, when their respective teams meet in the final round of pool-play.

La Roche had hoped to get the opportunity to match up on van Dyk, a woman she admires greatly. But the Ferns opt to rest their star shooter after halftime, just as La Roche is being introduced to the game.

Even without their top shooter on court, the Ferns are too good for Trinidad and Tobago, walloping the Caribbean side 75-23.

At the end of the match the pair warmly greet and shake hands, a fleeting moment that van Dyk will probably forget later.

But for La Roche it is moments like these that make the tournament.