Leila Robinson Court back with a new look
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
"I am feeling wonderful." Those were the words of president of the Netball Jamaica (NJ), Marva Bernard, after the newly resurfaced Leila Robinson Court was officially reopened by Natalie Neita-Headley, minister with responsibility for sport, and chairman of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), Dr Warren Blake, yesterday.
The renovation work on the courts, the first since it was built in 1970, was done at a cost of $23 million. Bernard told The Gleaner yesterday that the newly refurbished courts will help to raise the profile of the sport, as well as prevent players from getting injured on a regular basis.
"To be able to have something like this in a country that has a strong netball history and track record is just really good," Bernard said during yesterday's hand over ceremony "What we had before doesn't represent us, and so, it is good that we have been able to get this," she said.
"We will have much less injuries, much less downtime when it rains. In the past, when it rained, we had to use newspapers to dry the courts and so (now) it should dry much easier with a blower," Bernard said.
The NJ boss added that she was very thankful to the Government and the minister of sport, Neita-Headley, for their part in helping with the upgrading of island's premier netball facilities.
"The minister worked really hard and once she said she was going to do it, then we just had to wait for it to happen," said Bernard. "The stands are coming next and the lights are also coming, and so, in this work, you have to have infinite patience and faith," she pointed out.
Neita-Headley said the Government is committed to improving the nation's sporting facilities across the island because this only helps to improve our athletes' performances on the international stage.
"I am very happy that the Government of Jamaica was able to deliver on a commitment that it had made and all the better for sport development here," said Neita-Headley.
"The surface is going to allow for our players to have far less injuries and also would meet international standards not only for netball, but also for volleyball and basketball, and so it's a fantastic court," the minister said.
Blake said the resurfacing of the country's premier netball court was long overdue and he is very happy that his organisation was able to assist in the process.
"These courts have not been refurbished since it was built years ago, and this is a refurbishing that has been long overdue, and you can see how beautiful it looks now," said Blake. "It is colourful, it is bright, and the surface itself is really good to play on, and it comes up to international standard and it is the next best thing to an indoor court," he said.
Blake added that new stands should be in place in another couple of weeks while work on the upgrading of the lighting system at the courts will also begin very soon.
"I figure by the end of the next moth, we should have the spectators' seats in place," he said. "This Leila Robinson court is a major court for netball in Jamaica because the netballers players play almost everyday," Blake said. "If you come here on any weekend and any evening, you will see the girls here playing netball on these courts, and so it is one of the most used facilities in Jamaica," Blake stated.