Miss B’s final pass
The death of netball stalwart Gloria Ballantyne last Saturday, confirms that all good things and good persons, will not last forever.
Balllantyne, who came to be known simply as Miss B, was 81 at the time of her passing.
But despite losing the final battle with Alzheimer’s last Saturday, the memories and imprint of her sterling contribution to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ netball mainly, and to sports in general are indelible.
Not because she is no longer here in the flesh with us that this column will choose to classify her as one of this country’s sporting legends.
And this status should not be questioned, as her records of achievements are evident.
Ballantyne who was the daughter of another of this country’s stand-out cricketers St Clair Warner, may well explain her natural relish for sports.
As it turned out, Ballantyne represented St Vincent and the Grenadines well as a netballer.
With netball in her veins, Ballantyne, after her playing days were over, took to administration.
She was the founder of local teams Falcons and Joggers, both of which have since become defunct.
Nationally, Ballantyne became the longest serving president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association (SVGNA); holding the post for more than two decades.
Among the stand-out achievements under Ballantyne’s watch was ensuring that the SVGNA became a legal entity.
Additionally, Ballantyne, through her tenacity, saw the SVGNA taking ownership of Kingstown Netball Centre, popularly known to many then as the “Nutricia Centre”.
These were firsts for St Vincent and the Grenadines sporting associations, as the SVGNA thus became the first sporting association to be incorporated and have its own home.
Another accomplishment under Ballantyne’s presidency came in 2005, when the St Vincent and the Grenadines senior netball team qualified for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Melbourne Australia.
It was also during Ballantyne’s tenure as president that St Vincent and the Grenadines were able to notch up 10 of the 14 ECCB/OECS Under-23 netball titles.
She was also at the helm when St Vincent and the Grenadines were good enough to top the Under-16 and senior Caribbean Netball Association (CNA) titles.
Regionally, Ballantyne served as a senior vice-president of the CNA) from 1986 to 1988, and from 1988 to 1992, was the CNA’s president.
Also on the regional landscape, Ballantyne was the convener of the regional umpires’ committee for many years, and treasurer of the Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA).
Whilst she would have distinguished herself in netball, Ballantyne held for six years, the position of treasurer and spent two years as vice-president of the then St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Association, known today as the SVG Football Federation.
She was one of the foundation members of the establishment of the National Olympic Committee, which has since been rebranded the SVG Olympic Committee and held the position of deputy chairman of the National Sports Council.
Ballantyne also performed duties of Chef de Mission for St Vincent and the Grenadines, at five successive Olympic Games, spanning from 1992 to 2008.
Although netball was her main claim to popularity, Ballantyne was known to many in communities in an around the suburbs, as she guided persons on family planning matters.
Ballantyne has also been credited for transforming the operations of the National Society of and For the Blind.
But unlike many who have contributed to sports and have slipped out of life, Miss B has had her fair share of recognition.
In 1998, Ballantyne received the honour of Order of the British Empire.
She thus had the accolade as the “First Lady of Sports” bestowed on her, by the National Olympic Committee, now the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee.
Among others who would have also recognised the late Ballantyne’s contribution to netball, were the SVGNA, CNA and AFNA.
In 2015, the Breakaway Masters acknowledged her family for their contributions to sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Unprecedented, all five of Ballantyne’s off-spring, represented St Vincent and the Grenadines in at least one sporting discipline.
However, Ballantyne, because of the advanced state of her ailment, was unaware of her most recent acknowledgment of her service to netball, when last month the organisers of the inaugural ECCB/OECS International Netball Series, named the tournament’s trophy in her honour.
This column joins in others, in expressing condolences to the Ballantyne family in their moment of bereavement.
The best we can do for the late Gloria Ballantyne, is to emulate some of the things she would have done to make netball and sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines better.