Netball still trending
On Target
June 21, 2024

Netball still trending

The 2024 Bank of SVG/Flow National Netball Tournament, must be hailed as one of the better administrated and competitive ones for a few years now, barring that the 2020 edition was aborted, and there was none in 2021 and 2022.

Therefore, congratulations are in order for the Police Youth Club Blazers, for winning both the League and Knock Out titles in Division Four, joining Sion Hill One, who were double champions in Division Two; and Maca Crushers, who took all that was at stake in the Male Division.

The tournament saw the return of Mitres to the top of the Division One League title, with dethroned league champions X- Ceed Sports Club One, taking the Knock Out.

The spoils were also shared in Division Three, as Clinchers won the league and Sion Hill Two, the Knock Out. Added, there were many individual standouts across the five divisions. On reflection, the three months of the tournament, March to June, saw some advancements in the sport that are worthy of making the highlights reel.

Among them, was the continued corporate support, as well as new ones coming on board. This is two-fold, as it shows that there are people who are still willing to support the sport, and the confidence placed in the Natasha Baptiste-led executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association(SVGNA).

As such, Baptiste and company must be commended for the Division Four, essentially, a Development category.

What took place in that division, was the emergence of some new, young talents, who are still attending primary school.

Likewise, new officials came to the fore during the 2024 tournament, thus broadening the pool of the SVGNA human resources.

Definitely, these positives augur well for the future of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Netball.

Relatedly, we saw the major teams continuing to have feeders, through the conduits of the lower divisions; again, a plus for the sport and its sustainability of these units.

Of note too, is a marginal but welcomed improvement relative to the attendance at matches, as the teams/clubs or units that are community based, brought with them,their own cheer leading sections in the stands.

Much, though, must be made of the SVGNA media team which utilized the various platforms to advertise the matches which in no uncertain terms brought an online following, through live streaming.

But as this column lauds this year’s tournament and the efforts of all who played their part in its success, more can be done to achieve even more in ensuing tournaments.

Critically, something must be conjured to have more matches among the top teams, namely those in Division One, as not enough matches are played among the most competent net ballers the country possess at this juncture.

Maybe one suggestion is to play two rounds. Another is to place more teams in the Division, whilst there is a school of thought that the two top teams emerging from the round robin, meet in a play-off, either a one-off final, or a best of three finals.

Likewise, some criteria must be placed on the Division Four, as clearly, there were some disparities in terms of abilities and age difference among some of the teams.

Importantly, as part of the building blocks and spreading Netball, decentralising the tournament should be another area to be addressed.

This year, save and except for a solitary match at the Layou Hard Court, the tournament was fixed at the Kingstown Netball Centre, commonly known as Nutricia.

Yes, that venue has served the sport well over the many decades, however, that concerted effort to take the national tournament into the various communities should be pursued with utmost priority.

Notwithstanding that there was a slight increase in the number of units seeking honours in this year’s tournament, and whilst widespread participation is encouraging, what is paramount is the quality that is produced from these units.

It may be a wiser move to have some of the units collapse and produce more formidable outfits.

Instead what we saw in some instances, is quantity which did not translate into play that was pleasing to the eyes.

A proposition is for the vetting of the makeup of the units before the final cut is made. Or, the organisers can introduce a recreational category for those units that are playing for fun or simply to keep fit.

From all observation, the sport is trending upwards again, hence, ensuring growth all-round should be at the top of the pole for those charged with administering Netball at the national level.