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Whisper a prayer for Netball

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Who would have thought that Netball, a sport that once brought national glory and regional recognition, could have plummeted to a level that is almost unbelievable?

We may say that passion and thirst for sports in general here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are no longer there. That is so. But Netball’s dip has been such that it has come at break neck speed.{{more}}

Now, we are at a loss as to where we have gone wrong in the sport that once stood out as a beacon, and one which many wanted to emulate.

If you think otherwise that my above mentioned statements are baseless, just take a good look at the community competitions, which had become feeders for the national tournament, and acted as the avenue for the emergence of young talent. Once you were good enough, then off to the nationals you went.

They, too, have been dealt a heavy blow, as interest, participation and support for these competitions have gone with the changing times.

To witness a community competition Final with just about forty spectators turning up, and one team unable to field a full complement of players to take to the court, are indicators of where we are.

No longer do sponsors rush to help the women folk, with assistance of uniforms and other things, as they, too, have realised the departure from the position where excellence was the hallmark of all Netball units. Instead, most units have become fragments of players just wanting a sweat, while clubs like Maple do not attract those who are not sticklers to the code of conduct.

The result is the same teams traverse the island, duplicating competitions, with no marked signs of progress.

The national tournament has become watered down and replete with problems of ill discipline, lack of officials, late starts, defaulted matches, and disinterest, even by some elected members of the national committee.

Similarly, national representative teams leave more in anticipation and hope than certainty that they are going to perform at the standard that distinguished St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Netball as the sport fitting for royalty.

But what is amazing in this regard is that Netball was the single sport which women had a monopoly on, hence they held on with unrelenting care and commitment.

Could someone please help me as to what has gone so drastically wrong with Netball?

Problems of a societal nature and the evolution of the Vincentian community certainly have impacted negatively on Netball.

To see a team of netballers coming to games with a cooler filled with alcoholic beverages as their refreshments shows how impacting are the emerging trends.

Apportioning blame on the current crop of administrators may be a disservice to those at the helm of the sport nationally and otherwise. There were symptoms years ago, but the nationals were doing well, so the problems were blurred by success.

But what is certain is that the national executive must take the bull by the horn and come up with some solutions, sooner, rather than later.

History would be unkind to Doris Mc Intosh and her executive if they don’t arrest the situation. If this is not done, she could be presiding over the final rites of Netball.

Luckily, those in charge have acknowledged that there is a dire need to look critically at the sport and its structure.

What may be good for Netball at this time, is engaging the minds of Netball in a consultative process as to how to get out of this rot. A development plan and an overhaul of the sport should be high on the agenda in the process.

I would also take the drastic measure of shelving the 2008 intended national club tournament to rest and refresh for 2009.

A retreat among the executive members is insufficient in this time when redemption is a must.

While Netball is the focal point in my exposition, if other sports also don’t take heed, they can find themselves in a similar position soon.

• kingroache@yahoo.com

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