BNA should do more for netballers
By Sherrylyn A. Toppin | Wed, April 25, 2012 - 12:03 AM
I hope the Barbados Netball Association (BNA) does more for the Under-16 team than just that greeting last Friday afternoon at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Imagine, those 12 young women and their coaches finally achieved what no team had done in seven years by winning the Caribbean Netball Association Jean Pierre Under-16 Netball Competition, and many members of the association were absent.
Don’t use the excuse that it was a Friday evening and they couldn’t get away from work.
I don’t know how coach Julie Phillips, assistant coach Tracey Leacock and manager Paula Jarvis felt when they saw the reception those young women received.
Apart from a few parents and well-wishers, only secretary Nisha Cummings, floor member Joycelyn Prescod, senior coach Anna Shepherd, Neil Murrell, of the National Sports Council, and Phillips’ mother Sonia were there.
Vice-president Carlos Lovell was there to see them win in St Vincent, so his absence was acceptable.
Barbados haven’t won the championship since 2005, and when they placed fourth in 2008, Phillips was given one year by then president Octavia Gibson to turn the programme around.
What kind of message are we sending to these women? Are we telling them that netball is a sport with a viable future of tangible rewards?
In this Under-16 team, Ashley Marshall and Tia Jones were on the Barbados team to the Junior Caribbean Volleyball Championships and they may have one foot out the door.
But netball, like many local sports, is famous for not rewarding its top players.
For years, it has been unable to secure sponsorship for at least the top division, while a winning football team can get as much as $100 000 in one out-of-season tournament and $30 000 in another.
Last year, the top prize in the Premier League organized by the Barbados Football Association was $20 000 and that body responded to the outside forces and increased its prize money by nearly 100 per cent across the board, with $30 000 being the highest amount any team can win in a single competition.
That is nothing to sneeze about.
Until recently, netball didn’t even offer scholarships like track and field, volleyball, swimming and basketball. However, Makeba Clarke, Jehlesal Brathwaite and Tonisha Rock-Yaw have been beneficiaries at St Bede’s School in England.
Unfortunately, there are no Barbadian netballers joining their Jamaican and English counterparts at the ANZ Championships in Australia and New Zealand.
Similarly, Lydia Bishop served this country with distinction for 14 years at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, Americas and Caribbean Championships and, to this date, not even a note or a postcard by snail mail has been sent from the BNA thanking her for the years of service.
Too many people walk away from netball disillusioned. Others stick around because they love the sport and from a sense of obligation, but in casual conversation, you can hear the frustration in their voices, and their expressed sentiment that the sport is regressing.
Every effort needs to be made to keep these young women in the sport.
The first step, however, is to acknowledge them in an appropriate forum.
They deserve that . . . and more!
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