July 20, 2018
Get that fix for our netball

FOR SEVERAL YEARS now, there has been, talk, talk, talk and more talk about the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ netball.

Since the gradual fall in returns at the regional level, nothing has changed in the direction of betterment of our standings.

So in 2018, we are at the point we were a decade ago.

Then, though, we were the gurus at the Windward Islands Schools’ Games phase and of course, possessed the greatest percentage on the title deed of the ECCB/OECS Under-23 tournament, but, as recent as last week, St Vincent and the Grenadines had slipped to third place.

If truth be told, this column has been on record trying to address the matter of the state of national netball from time to time.

Netball development is not simply the hosting of an annual national tournament and the many area competitions that are played in the spread geography of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It goes deeper than that.

So what we are lamenting over today are the consequences of the failures in making the necessary adjustments when they were needed and paying attention to emerging social trends then.

The baseline tests of netball are the exhibits of standard at the annual national tournaments, both at the schools and club/teams’ levels; the infrequent show at the Caribbean Netball Association’s Under-16 tournament, as well as our showing at the yearly exercise of the sub-regional Under-23 outing.

Whilst there are some presence of ability in all areas, when the progressions are made, we still do not have that cutting edge to be recognised as a force in the region.

This is so because, the administrators of netball here have not acknowledged that we cannot be doing it the same way that was employed 30 or 40 years ago.

Too, many persons still make the reference point, to where we were three decades and more ago, and the comparisons are made.

Unfortunately, this type of back- in-time blame game is where we are going wrong, as overtime the social dynamics of St Vincent and the Grenadines has gone through several changes.

First up, netball is no longer the go to sport played here by females, although it remains the leading sport among those of that gender make up.

Therefore getting young females to get into the sport, is a big ask. This is where the sorting out begins.

Those in authority, who want to see progress in netball, have to woo people to the sport, as they are not being pulled.

This is also an undertaking for the established outfits to seek out talent throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines, especially the non-traditional netball communities.

Too, these units along with St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association have to play their

part in putting a print on the schools’ team, by giving assistance where possible in the areas of coaching and players’ development all-round, inclusive of mentorship.

Additionally, the national netball authorities have to place a handle on the various area competitions.

These competitions, whilst providing that social outlet and an opportunity to unearth new talent, have been left to evolve unchecked, which is impacting negatively on the overall national product.

The continuum then takes place as the national tournament becomes an extended version of the area competitions, where invariably the same pool of unfiltered talent is poured into it.

As a consequence, the product at that wider stage is watered down and counter- productive, as quality takes a backseat to quantity.

Hence, this column is advocating an overhaul of the national tournament, whereby there are fewer teams, two rounds of competition among the division one teams, along with playoffs.

The national tournament should be serious business and no place for teams which just want a sweat.

The sport is paying the heavy price of oblivion for this type of operation