International Netball Series – some reflections
Last week’s hosting of the ECCB/OECS International Netball Series here at the Arnos Vale Netball Complex brought out many positives and may be an equal number of negatives.
First up, the second place among the five teams, earned some respectability to SVG’s netball, as it was a good gauge for where the sport is, relative to their OECS opponents, namely Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.
The final result was indicative of the new course being pursued by the policy makers of netball, who from the evidence of the makeup of the St Vincent and the Grenadines team, are looking to another generation, by engaging the future of national senior representatives with tournament experience.
Critically, with the new look SVG team being able to defeat the current OECS top team, Grenada, pointed to some presence of netball pedigree in the relatively young charges.
The result though does not mean that our netball is where it ought to be, but the performance of the Vincentians, gave some insight into if the charters of the sport locally, get the right systems in place, netball can move from where it is.
Another of the positives which emerged from the week of hosting of the International Netball Series was the support given to the tournament by the Vincentian public.
It showed that the Vincentians are prepared to give their support behind sports, once the vibe is right, and the necessary publicity is done.
Hence, the crowds which showed up on the nights when it best suited their presence, created a festive atmosphere and in some way boosted the home team’s energies on the court.
Whilst the sport of netball has not been as popular as what obtained some years ago, the week of the tournament, somewhat, gave a throwback experience.
In some way though, the overwhelming support seem to have had some nervy effects on some of the players.
So in the quest for success, the local crowd at times got on the back of the players, as there were several issues that surfaced prior to the St Vincent and the Grenadines team entering the tournament.
One would have thought that at the sound of the first whistle to signal the start of the St Vincent and the Grenadines team’s sojourn in the tournament, that whatever the differences that had brewed from the local club scene, would have been shelved.
For certain, it was not everything Vincy, as the audible comments about team selection and the added local insularity, did not serve the players on the court well.
Whilst some persons went overboard, to the point of being abusive, this should serve as part of future plans, when it comes to the mental preparation of national netball teams.
Clearly, whilst the players had been drilled in the actual match preparations, there was evidence of a deficiency in their ability to play when pressured.
But the case was similar when they were ahead, as was the case with their crucial second round encounter versus Grenada last Thursday.
Buoyed by the constant deafening cheering, and with a comfortable lead over the Grenadians in the last quarter, the inexperienced Vincentian outfit began to play to the crowd, rather than control the proceedings on court.
The end result was that Grenada kept their poise and clawed back to win the match, and eventually the title.
It must be a matter of course now that several match simulation scenarios be created by our coaches in order to have our netballers prepare for such eventualities.
But our netballers were also wanting with their response on the last night of the tournament, when they chose to wear jerseys, hitting back at their critics, saying “No Fake Support”.
Our netballers should desist from getting themselves engaged in such back and forth, as there would always be persons who are critical of them.
Similarly, the persons involved in the appointment of management of the team erred big time with the skeleton staff which oversaw the St Vincent and the Grenadines team.
Surely, the bench lacked an assistant coach as well as physiotherapist.
This left coach Vasha Adams and trainer Woodrow Williams with too much to do.
There cannot be any plausible excuses for these glaring omissions, as the team was playing at home, and cost therefore, was not a factor.
Also, whilst there was a Local Organising Committee in place, there were many bases which were not covered, which in some instances, put St Vincent and the Grenadines in a bad light.
But, all in all, St Vincent and the Grenadines was treated to a week of sporting entertainment, which was much appreciated.