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UWI defends withdrawal

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

UWI defends withdrawal

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The champs are defending their position not to defend their crown. Reigning queens Signia UWI Blackbirds believe they had no other option but to withdraw from the ongoing Division 1 netball season, considering the club can only field five healthy players in that division.

UWI expressed their position in a Press statement sent to Sunsport in response to last week’s Writers’ Roundtable discussion surrounding the Blackbirds’ highly contentious move.

“Six members of the UWI Blackbirds Signia netball team were called to national duty, four of whom represented Barbados at the recently held Commonwealth Games in Australia. While abroad, all four sustained serious injuries which, in some cases, required doctor’s clearance or surgery. The other two were sidelined with injuries which caused them not only to miss the Australian tournament but also to be deemed unavailable for subsequent UWI duty,” UWI wrote in the release.

“Injury to six of the eleven Division 1 registrants meant that UWI would have only five players to represent it at the start of the season. Netball regulations require that a team of seven players take to the court.

“Notwithstanding that representatives of the Barbados Netball Association were in Australia for the Commonwealth Games and that the local governing body was fully aware of the extent of the players’ injuries, both the BNA and Blackbirds netball sponsors, Signia Financial Group Inc., were informed of the UWI’s decision to withdraw from the Division 1 competition. This information was communicated to both parties prior to its start,” UWI added.

It’s the latest turn of events in a shocking situation that saw UWI pull its team from the league following injuries to the club’s national players Sheniqua Thomas, Shanice Rock, Shonica Wharton, Damisha Croney, Rieah Holder and Teresa Howell.

But the move came under heavy criticism from no fewer than four senior journalists as it was in clear contravention of the BNA’s playing regulations.

According to clause 1.4, “any club withdrawing its team(s) after the start of competition may be prevented from taking part in any future BNA competitions and/or may be subjected to a fine determined by the board of directors”. 

Several pundits also questioned UWI’s refusal to elevate some of the club’s other players considering Blackbirds registered a team in Division 5.

However, UWI countered in the same Press statement by saying “the elevation of Division 5 players into the Division 1 pool was not permitted as journalists have proposed”.

Barbados Netball Association president Nisha Craigwell refuted that part of the statement, though, having said that any player can play in a higher division than the one they are registered in.

“Of course, there is no rule that prevents anyone from playing in a higher division. The only stipulation is that after the first game that player has to remain in the higher division,” explained Craigwell.

“Their situation was that they came to us wanting to have the five healthy Division 1 players go down to Division 5 and we told them that we can’t accommodate that.” (JM)

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