Fix it soonest
On Target
March 24, 2023
Fix it soonest

Amidst the bright sunshine, resplendent attire of the teams, the pomp and panache that heralded the return of the National Netball Tournament in a wholesome way since 2019, there was a dark, grey cloud that hung over the Kingstown Netball Centre last Sunday March, 19.

The gloom hovering the venue, was the fact that Division One of the tournament would only feature two clubs, namely defending champions, On Trac X- Ceed and Island wide Shipping Mitres.
Having only two clubs contesting the top flight of our Netball tournament cannot be the best advertisement and marketing product for the sport.

Neither is it symbolic of growth, as Netball has been the lone sporting discipline that had given St Vincent and the Grenadines much acclamation in the Caribbean region for many years.
Significantly, despite the relativity in numbers Netball holds the highest ranking for this country on the world stage.

Therefore, it is somewhat of an anomaly that whilst the sport has been making traction and head way in terms of the country’s current rankings on the World Netball list, those are juxtaposed by a reduction in the best net ballers exposed to the best local competition on offer.

Unfortunately, the blow has come at the juncture when Netball is inching its way back into the psyche of Vincentians.

Critically as well, the sport has gained the confidence of the political directorate of the country, more so, this country’s Head of Government, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who has galvanized support especially for the Senior Women’s Team.

Not to mention the new-found fruitful partnership between the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association(SVGNA).
In years to come, we will definitely look back at the current period as the halcyon days of the SVGNA.

Thus, given the present development, it had to be a painstaking decision by Maple, who have walked the path of local and sub-regional champions, to forgo their Division One participation.

For the soon to turn 72 year -old Maple club, the stance taken by members indicates that the club is giving the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association(SVGNA), the indicators for them to look deeply into the structure of the National Club Tournament.

Whilst the signs were there for many years, as the Division One numbers have been floundering overtime, the hurt has been felt more than ever on this occasion.

Hence, it cannot be proper to have the two clubs- Mitres and X- Ceed, play multiple rounds of competition, and that is passed off as true representation of the true Division One champion.
No matter how many times the two face off, it cannot be the same as attrition and monotony will set in.

It cannot replace a properly constituted Division One competition, but getting some additional matches for X- Ceed and Mitres would at least make up.

The onus is on the Natasha Baptiste – led executive of the SVGNA to take another look at the format of the National Club Tournament, and put the systems in place to avoid a reoccurrence in 2024.

Worst case scenario, it would be surely a dark day for the sport should no club choose the enter the Division One race.

Needed is knocking of heads, ideas and inclusivity as a way forward is found to make the National Netball Tournament relevant to the overall development of the sport and individuals.

However, as the lamentations swell about the two clubs in Division One, the 2023 tournament has seen the advent of a Male Division .

Incorporation of a male component into the tournament, despite the hang ups from quarters who are opposed citing the purity of the sport, is keeping in line with the international thrust.

So, as we make one step forward, let us not make two steps backward.

Division One Netball has always been the highlight reel of the National Tournament, so let it be.