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Make or break time for national netball


The annual national netball club tournament, the flagship evaluation process for our netball talent, is set to begin soon.

Expected would be the regular participating teams, which again will number in excess of 30.

Then, there will be the usual fanfare and all the trappings which go with the customary opening ceremony.

But the real proof of our netball, though, would be the actual on–field display, as it surely cannot be business as usual.

For many years, there have been numerous groans and murmuring, as persons who are close to netball, or even the casual followers of sport who have all been concerned about netball’s steady demise.

Unfortunately, these concerns have had more than its fair share of ventilation, but little action has been employed to stem the tide of decadence.

So, year after year, the national tournament is held, and this is the best yard stick in terms of development.

Too, St Vincent and the Grenadines can boost of having several community netball competitions, which have served to add some social cohesion to the hosts.

But the proliferation of these area tournaments have somewhat had a negative effect on the final product that is presented at best at the national set up.

These tournaments, with no set desire for the development of players who come from the bowels of the respective communities, give a false assessment of many of the players’ abilities.

Therefore, when many of them are filtered into the units of the national tournament, their deficiencies come to the fore on the highest local stage.

Also, can anyone rightly identify a stand-out netballer, who is under the age of 23, who has an outstanding skill-set in her toolkit?

Yes, there are some players who can be considered above average, however, this labelling is relative, as it is contingent on the quality in stock.

Another of the thumb eye test and actually most instructive of the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ netball, is what comes out from the secondary schools’ competition.

For those who witnessed the recent edition, any hope of a turning of corners in netball was shattered, as there was not much to shout about, but a plethora of worries.

When one looks around at the sport in the region and the wider world, it can be said with a high level of accuracy, that St Vincent and the Grenadines’ netball is some years behind.

This is because we have failed miserably in putting development structures in place, neither from the individual teams/ clubs’ standpoint, and more so, from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association’s efforts to put netball on strong footing.

So, as we embark on this year’s national netball tournament, set aside that winners of the various divisions would be decided and they would be duly compensated, let us go beyond that.

Whilst it may not be the ideal, the policymakers of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association, should, as a matter of urgency, have in place a technical committee.

Part of the mandate of this committee, would be to seek out the best young talent available, with a view of harnessing their skills.

For too long, netball has been allowed to evolve, rather than having a clear development path mapped out and objectives for growth pursued vigorously.

Development is also needed in the other facets of the sport, namely coaching and umpiring, which are equally areas where we have been found trailing way behind.

Hence, before any move to restructure the national tournament, as being proffered in some quarters, first and foremost, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ netball overall is in need of some serious attention.

Not more of the talk; enough of the finger pointing and blame game, it is time for decisive action.