A change of the old guards
National netball has welcomed a new champion, when Twilight Trading X- Ceed was installed as the league winners of the Gloria Ballantyne Division One of the FLOW National Tournament.
X- Ceed’s triumph meant that it is the first time in just about a decade and a half that neither Maple nor Mitres’ name is associated with the division one title.
The two, Maple and Mitres, have over the years, traded the title, thus making the race for honours locked between them.
Too, it meant that throughout the duration of the tournament, the lone match that was anticipated by keen followers of the sport, was that encounter.
Whilst the two would have represented the units with the best set of netballers that the country possesses, it was not healthy for the sport, as it did not leave the door ajar, for others to take a peek.
But X-Ceed showed that their dominance could have been upstaged.
Critically, the score- line in the four matches which X-Ceed won, exposed the relative distance between them, and the others.
X- Ceed’s victories were in the most part one-sided, as they defeated RSVG Police Elite, 70-34; Dutch Lady Clinchers, 64-40, Mitres, 54-33, and saw off Metrocint General Insurance Maple,
This is not to suggest that X- Ceed has taken over as the permanent champions; neither is it being insinuated that the days of Mitres and Maple’s reign are over.
What is factual is at least some new faces are being featured as the best lot in netball in St Vincent and the Grenadines, at the national level.
Additionally, it is evident that experience alone cannot cut in on the court, as the skills, tact and stamina, are all necessary ingredients for staying on top.
It is now for the management of Mitres and Maple to look inside of their set ups, and make some serious decisions, including refreshing their squads.
Not to immediately write off the two gurus of local netball, but this 2019 tournament showed that that they lacked depth in their roster and it is time to press the refresh button.
In the case of Maple, they possess other teams in the lower divisions of the tournament, and have players to choose from, however, they are reluctant to make those decisive moves.
The same is not the case of Mitres, as the division one outfit stands alone, with no feeders to replenish their ageing stock.
Mitres too, seems not to want to go the way of recruiting from others, compounding their dilemma.
On the other hand, as with X- Ceed, they have done what is right overtime, by blooding young players in their senior team, hence has inched their way now to the point of being just a contender to champion.
All, though, cannot be the fault of the teams/clubs in the tournament, as the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association (SVGNA), has to take some of the worthwhile criticism for the current state of the sport.
In 2019, the people who chart the course of the sport here, are still having the teams in the top division of the tournament assured of a minimum of five matches.
Surely, netball cannot move from its present state, when the top players are not given the opportunities to consistently compete at the highest levels locally.
In division one of this year’s tournament, they have again missed the boat with not instituting two rounds of competition.
Too, the executive of the SVGNA has to put a cap on the teams in the tournament, as there are too many units at the lower divisions – two and three.
The SVGNA’s executive has to undertake the enforcement of association netball as different from recreation netball, as the co-existence of the two in the premier national tournament is not fitting the bill for St Vincent and the Grenadines to make that leap of progress which is needed.
We have seen a changing of the guards at the top of the heap of the premier division of our national netball tournament. Effectively, this translates into a change of the old guards; now is the time for a change in the thinking, outlook, and administrative methods of the sport throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines.