St Vincent and the Grenadines stepped up to the plate big time, by hosting the inaugural Americas Male Netball Tournament at the Arnos Vale Netball Complex, September 1 to 4.
For that period, teams from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and invited team- South Africa, broke down some barriers by contesting for honours.
Admittedly, we do not possess indoor facilities like the visiting teams possess, so it was more than welcoming that they came here and gave of their best on the hard asphalt surfaces that exist at the Arnos Vale facility.
Commendations are high for the South Africans who journeyed from their home, half-way around the world to get to St Vincent and the Grenadines, just to be part of the tournament.
The guest team’s efforts cannot be slighted as the tournament meant so much that their attendance was paramount.
Another of the high points was the overwhelming response by the Vincentian public. One cannot thumb exactly what gave the spark for the spectator interest, but what was clear was that the matches were well supported.
One possibility could be the wide promotion that the tournament received, as all and sundry knew an event of that nature was taking place in St Vincent and the Grenadines and at the said venue.
The Vincentian support and response came up against the expected homophobic blockages and inhibitions that would have deterred some people from attending.
However, that was an inevitability, as we are living in a society that in general abhors and displays intolerance for the perceived stereotypical behaviour that they apply to men who are involved in the sport of Netball.
Kudos are not sufficient for the host association, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association, and by extension the Local Organising Committee(LOC) for a job fairly well done.
Leading the charge was recently elected President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association- Natasha Baptiste, whose unbridled passion for male Netball helped immensely in making the Vincentian undertaking successful.
Even before Baptiste took charge of the executive in May of this year, her predecessor – Doris Mc Intosh had already indicated that our country’s intentions of hosting the tournament.
But, beyond the administrative successes, St Vincent and the Grenadines took the limelight for that few days, and our historic hosting was well publicized, documented and archived.
So by extension , Netball in St Vincent and the Grenadines got a shot in the arm, with the male segment gaining some recognition.
Congratulations are in order to Jamaica for winning the title and for St Vincent and the Grenadines placing second.
In short, the Vincentian team was able to gauge themselves against the others, namely Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada.
Set aside the misgivings about male Netball , the stage had been set for the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association to show the same fervour with the female component.
Therefore, it is incumbent on the local Netball authorities to build on the interest spawned from the recently concluded male tournament.
Despite the novelty of the tournament, it must serve as a spring board for future hosting as well as a fillip for the upcoming national club tournament.
Netball has been placed on a high so the bigger picture must be viewed as the major winner.