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55 years on the netball court for Maples

55 years on the netball court for Maples

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Celebrating 55 years of existence as local sporting body is a rarity, but Maple Netball Club has achieved just that.

This year, the club, which could be aptly renamed, “an institution”, has reached that milestone.

And, there is much to be proud of, as Maple is not only the oldest netball club in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but also in the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS).

Maple’s birth came in July 1951, when the Kingstown Netball Club became defunct. {{more}}

Emerging as pioneers for Maple were Sydney Morris, Sylvia Wilson-DaSilva, Joyce Maloney-Frank, Marlene Wilson- Arthur, Thelma Brown, Noreen Simon, and Joyce Niles.

The club’s membership then was twenty-five, with Vilna Cox, the first President.

In 2006, membership stands at forty.

The current mantle of leadership is in the hands of Frank, who took over the reins in 1980. But ill health in recent times has restricted her participation in the club’s day-to-day administration.

This longevity of service epitomises the stability of Maple which has a production line of top national players who have made their mark on the local and international circuits.

Among them are Gloria Ballantyne, Stella Boyea, Jose Providence, Elizabeth Caruth-Matthews and Skiddy Francis-Crick.

Francis-Crick was honoured by government in 2001 as one five Goodwill Ambassadors for her contribution to the sport.

The club can also boast of producing West Indies netball captain Peggy Ince-Hull at the first World Netball tournament played in Eastbourne, Sussex, England in 1963.

Hull today is one of the pillars on which the club’s existence rests.

She has seen the transition of the club over the years as they hold fast to their motto: “Discipline and Development.”

Despite its ups and downs, Maple through its astute leadership, has won the confidence of corporate entities. Its flagship team has enjoyed unbroken sponsorship for the past twenty-five years through the Guinness and Vita Malt brands.

Not confined to local competitions, Maple has sought to expose its members to other techniques of play through overseas tours.

Maple was part of the inaugural sub-regional club competition in 1985 in St. Kitts.

The club secured back-to-back wins in that competition in 2000 and 2001, on home soil and in Nevis respectively.

Still a force to be reckoned with on the local circuit, Maple since 1985 has sported at least two teams in the annual national competition.

The club has always been synonymous with success dominating the top flight of the local competition from the 1950’s to the 80’s, until the emergence of clubs like Joggers, Superstars and Mitres.

But Maple clawed their way back doing the hat-trick from 1999 to 2001, and reclaimed national netball glory in 2004. Added to their list of silverware has been several Division One knock-out titles.

Maple this year was second in both the league and knock-out of Division One to Mitres.

With this background, it is the hope of the club’s administrators that reaching 100 years will be no far-fetched thought.

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