Posted on

A THORNY ISSUE: ‘Mirror’ of local netball

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: ‘Mirror’ of local netball

Social Share

IT IS what it is.

And I’m not too sure if the results would have been different from the netball World Cup if we had taken a different set of players or another set of coaches.

From reading the various comments so far about Barbados’ poor performance, I think that only former president of the Barbados Netball Association(BNA), Annette Beckett, managed to hit the nail on the head.

Beckett, who hardly misses an evening or night of netball, said that what she saw in Australia was just a reflection of what she witnesses in the regular domestic competitions.

She commented:”The reality is what we have seen in Sydney in this World Cup is what we were seeing at the Netball Stadium at night during local netball.”

She is so right. I keep saying, and this is for all sports, performance at the highest level is often a replica of what happens domestically. No team or individual can make a dramatic shift from under par displays among their peers to excellence on a sustained basis against superior opposition.

It would only occur occasionally if there’s a moment of inspiration.You have a better chance of winning the lottery if you believe those moments will flow in rivers. Most things are developed by habit or through repetition.

How many times this season did senior teams score over 40 goals in matches? Which shooter averaged more than 90 per cent consistently in games? What was the general quality in passing?

For me, these questions were answered in the matches when we met opponents who were also on our level. In other words, our performances against the likes of Trinidad and Tobago and Scotland were the equivalent to what happens on a nightly basis. Consequently, the wide margins of defeats against the big guns like Australia and New Zealand are self-explanatory.

The point is that we first need to see a huge improvement in our senior league. After all, this is where the majority of the national team will come from.

These are who coaches then have to work with to face much sterner tests. The results, I think, will be mostly predictable.

I believe the players have to take greater responsibility for their standard of performance.

They need to take much more pride in what they are doing. Their own introspection should guide them to reaching and maintaining higher standards. The climb to world class starts on the domestic ladder.

I think the coaches should also pay much more attention to detail, particularly the weaknesses of their charges because if my contention follows a logical conclusion, they will be shown up and ruthlessly exploited against better opposition if they aren’t corrected.

Winning, too, is a good habit and nobody should oppose coaches who drive their charges to win, but at the end of the day there should be a proficient model in this respect that will hold up in any forum.

On many nights a team’s greatest consolation is that they have won and they get bragging rights, but in the post game analysis how much attention is paid to what they could have done better or do they just continue to pat themselves on the back without seeking to correct their Achilles heel?

Truth be told, I am not too sure if any of the teams actually have video replays of matches but this is something that should be considered going forward, notwithstanding that there could be a cost if they hire professionals to shoot games for them but if they can’t afford it, I’m sure they can find a team member/supporter who can use one of their devices to do it.

We are quick to forget that Barbados went to the World Cup ranked ninth, so we have to investigate what caused our dramatic plunge from the top 10. The BNA must make this a priority and act accordingly.

If the evidence proves that the coaches were lacking in strategy and technical assessment of the games and were unable to motivate the players to rise to the occasion, they should be replaced.

The association definitely has to take full responsibility for the obvious structural adjustments that have to be made to restore confidence in the senior netball brand.

I am making a distinction because we are currently the regional Under-16 champions and we have a proud record in this tournament and the Under-21s are currently ranked number 7 in the world.

Therefore, it appears that the bigger issue is bridging the gap between junior and senior level. The BNA has to determine whether we have the personnel to achieve it or if we have to seek help from overseas.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced,award-winning sports journalist.