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Make that sacrifice

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Over the last weekend, two national sporting associations ushered in their marquee events, the 2011 editions of their national competitions.{{more}}

Out of the blocks are the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association national Cricket league and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association National Club Tournament.

As expected, the two differ in the magnitude of their opening ceremonies. Cricket was its usual silent start with the traditional opener featuring the previous year’s Premier Division winner against the First Division winner, which has been promoted to the top division.

Netball’s opening, on the other hand, was with its trappings, colour, speeches and pomp.

Both competitions, though, are barometers for the technical personnel of both associations to gauge their developments, as well as the avenue to select the various national representative teams.

In the case of Netball, there are thirty nine teams/clubs which are participating. Eight in Division 1, twelve are in Division 2, nine are drawn in Division 3, eight are stashed in Division 4, and two are in the new Division, the Veteran category, a welcomed move.

But it is almost true to say that many of the teams registered for the tournament are there just to keep fit and have fun. Absolutely, that is an objective of sports, and must be entertained.

However, the resources of the SVGNA’s Executive will be stretched to its capacity, with this number of teams participating.

Over the years, the national club Netball tournament has suffered from a waning of interest from players, spectators and officials alike.

The late start of matches and the defaulting of matches are common place.

So, there is no guarantee that in this year’s tournament the trend will not be bucked, and the Netball administrators at the national level could find themselves having to save face.

Indeed, the resource base of personnel for Netball has dwindled over time, and fewer persons are willing to embrace the labour of love concept, and are demanding remuneration for their services.

Cognisant of the fall off in the passion for sports in general, the SVGNA will be better served to seek to strengthen the existing many area tournaments, and encourage them to form community based clubs from their catchments.

Communities have followings, and this can serve to inject that lost spirit that Netball once possessed.

Alternatively, Zonal competitions can be organized and the winners go forth to the national competition, which should be seen as the big stage.

In this way, the process of elimination will take shape, as only the real serious netballers will emerge at the national club tournament.

Part of the demise of Netball in the last decade and a half has been that we are seeing a quantity of teams/clubs participating in the national competitions, but that has compensated for the lack of quality.

Gone are the days when Netball was the main focus of young women. Today, all sporting disciplines are played by the women folk. Therefore, there is increased competition for their interest.

As it relates to the national Cricket competitions, it will be much of the same, just a different year, with the familiar faces topping the bowling and batting charts and averages.

Whilst Cricket does not share the multitude of teams in its competitions, the issues are similar, that of a loss of interest during the latter part of the proceedings.

The issue of fields will continue to be a bug bear. Most worrying, there is definitely a lack of quality players coming through.

Again, several factors impact this and some sort of corrective measures must be instituted, otherwise the sport could find itself in trouble soon.

It is, however, encouraging that Saints, the oldest Cricket unit here, is attracting some aspiring cricketers, as that club eases its stance.

It was also good to see a patriarch of the club, Mike Findlay, last weekend sit and give advice to the young charges, which is good for the further enhancement of the bridging the age divide.

Both Netball and Cricket administrators have some serious decisions to make soonest, about the upkeep of their respective disciplines.

Needing a sacrifice is the complete removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.