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Time for unity in netball


Andi Thornhill

Time for unity in netball

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The time?is ripe for the administration of local netball to settle down.
Hopefully, the newly elected executive will be able to achieve this.
Actually, I am confident that the new president, Nisha Cummins, has the leadership skills to make it happen.
She has been a fixture of the executive of the Barbados Netball Association for a while, serving most recently as general secretary before being elected to lead the fortunes of the association.
One of the things I have observed over the years is that the new president is highly respected by most and this should give her a head start in bringing much needed unity to an organization that oversees a sport well loved by its participants and followers alike.
From that viewpoint alone, the focus should be on putting the wheels that fell off the wagon back on since the voluntary departure of Annette Beckett as president, who was the consummate leader.
Cummins will have to show her true qualities and strength because I have often heard that club affiliation serves to be an instrument of division on executives because some people haven’t learned that country, not club, is paramount in that forum.
All things being equal, Barbadian netballers are in a good position to improve their rating at all levels but we will not reach our full potential if we can’t get it right in the boardroom which serves as the engine and the compass for success.
The time for malice and confrontation should concede to a season of sobriety and consolidation under this new administration.
Barbados’ style of play is well loved all over the world and with the right selection policy and conditions suitable for coaches to prepare teams properly, I am sure it is not beyond us to break into the top five in the world in the next two years. I would count it as a bonus if it happens sooner.
The fact that goal attack Nikita Piggott has been recruited to play in the English Super League is a boost for the players who should realize that if you play at a certain standard, there are opportunities to make money from netball.
One of the urgent issues that needs solving is improving the quantity and quality of those who officiate in matches. Clubs should be able to play a greater role in recruiting prospective umpires and scorers from among their ranks with the association creating the adequate training programmes in turn.
Retired international umpire Debra Lynch and the highly-rated Marion Johnson-Hurley should be given special roles in this avenue. We must begin to appreciate the skills of our icons in more rewarding ways without much discussion or division especially when their work has been lauded universally.
I also think that the concept of giving stipends and prize money along with trophies in the association’s most senior competition should be a target of the new body in the near future.
We have to modernize the administration of the game in keeping with international trends. We might be small but size shouldn’t prevent us from thinking big. So it’s over to the new executive to institute positive change to the netball court.
• Andi Thornhill is an award-winning, experienced free-lance sports journalist.

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