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Chickens coming home to roost

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At last, President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association, Godfrey Harry, and by extension his Executive, are waking up and smelling the coffee.{{more}}

Harry, in an address at the closing ceremony of the 2011 National Club Tournament last week Sunday at the Kingstown Netball Centre, called for some introspection and soul searching for those who are directly involved in the sport.

His pronouncements, criticisms, call it what you may, or taking action in light of the waning interest in Netball, are all but a little too late; but at least, he and his Executive are getting that harsh reality check.

Harry, in essence, sees the need to reduce the number of clubs/teams participating in the National Club Tournament.

This comes after the 2011 edition was again characterised by defaulted matches, late starts and a general disinterest, especially at the tail end. In short, it was tournament worth not remembering, as it lacked luster.

The malaise extended to officials, too, and Harry, with his many hats, was called upon on many occasions to do his full share of umpiring.

But, this was an instance of being hard ears, and as the saying goes: “Who nah hear ah go feel”.

This column for the past three years has advised the SVGNA to look critically at its intake of teams/ clubs in its major competition.

Not that the demise of Netball started under Harry’s watch, which began last year February, but he had an opportunity prior to the start of this year’s tournament to begin to stop the rot, in terms of the number of entrants participating in the Tournament.

With no disrespect to anyone, a look at the physical make up and body language of some of our netballers who play in the national tournament, one can readily assess that they are there just in it for a sweat.

This visual assessment can be made as early as the opening day of the tournament, when many are glad to sport their uniforms, then adios to that one day instant enthusiasm.

The administrators of Netball have come to the realization that quantity is not quality, which transcends to the production of formidable national teams.

And, as a consequence, we are no longer dominant even at the sub regional level.

In the mix, too, is that gone are the days when Netball was the main focus of young women. Today, most, if not all sporting disciplines, are played by the women folk. Therefore, there is increased competition for their interest.

Additionally, the resource base of Netball personnel has dwindled over time, and fewer persons are willing to embrace the labour of love concept.

Instead, what we are seeing is a make up – an influx of males in several positions of Netball, and that comes with some resentment and apprehension from aficionados of the sport.

Therefore, confronted with the indifference in passion for sports in general, the SVGNA will be better served to seek to strengthen the existing many area competitions, and encourage them to form community based clubs from these catchments.

Again, this column will remind the keepers of the sport that 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.

Also, the Executive could make greater efforts in promoting the Firms and Industrial Competition, which will give some of the “sweaters” another release valve for their recreational Netball exposition.

Harry and company, use the next few months to review this year’s tournament, make the necessary decisions or he or whoever takes over will just have to repeat that same speech at the 2012 Closing and Presentation Ceremony.

The chickens are still hatching, though, to completely remove the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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