Reach, Skyliners net titles in Portland
Sticking to its mandate of unearthing and nurturing talent across various sporting disciplines at the grassroots level, the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) continued the thrust behind its community development programme in the parish of Portland, hosting the INSPORTS Portland Community Netball Developmental League for the third consecutive year, with support from the Portland Cooperative Credit Union.
The League was extended from June to August, where extensive coaching of netball players aged 15-18 took place. Intermediary competitions were also held throughout the league to determine and evaluate the level of improvement of the players.
In these exercises, heavy focus is placed on the fundamentals of the game, including catching, chest passing, shoulder passing, shooting, landing and pivoting. This falls in line with INSPORTS' mandate to increase opportunities for talented players at the grassroots level to improve their technique and level of expertise. This, in turn, will result in the creation in a larger pool of players who are better prepared to advance to the national level and fits the stated philosophy of sports minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange's efforts to increase the development of sports at the community level.
Saturday saw the finals of the Division One and Two leagues in Port Antonio square, where members of the surrounding communities gathered to watch the teams in action. The Division Two finalists were Reach and Uprising, who contested an exciting match.
Reach outmanoeuvred Uprising in the first and second quarters. However, Uprising made a strong rally in the second half of the match, but fell short and conceded a narrow 21-20 scoreline.
In the Division One final, which was also closely contested, Skyliners registered a 23-20 win over Police Officers Youth Club.
"We definitely saw where our coaching clinics administered prior to and during the netball league had a significant impact on their performance," said Rudolph Barnes, INSPORTS' assistant national sports coordinator. "We will continue our coaching clinic programme to prepare our girls at the grassroots level for advancement to the national level."
Reach took home $40,000, a first place trophy and 15 gold medals for the players, while Uprising won $20,000, the runner-up trophy and silver medals for their players.
Skyliners pocketed $50,000, the winner's trophy and medals for their Division One success, while Police Officers Youth Club won $25,000, the runner-up trophy and medals.
INSPORTS also supplies equipment, uniforms and gear for the athletes as part of its programme.
"INSPORTS is responsible for unearthing and nurturing the talent in players across many sporting disciplines, in every nook and cranny of this country and netball is no exception," said Ian Andrews, the state agency's administrative director. "We believe in sports development at the community level and that a community that plays together, stays together, as was demonstrated by the strong community support during the finals."
He added: "Through this programme talented youngsters will be discovered for the national team. What we saw during the finals was the unearthing of a plethora of talent - this is what the programme does and we are pleased that our mandate is being fulfilled."
Currently, coaching clinics are in operation in Manchester with a similar netball community development League under way. The programme is set to be implemented in the parishes of St Catherine, St Ann, St James and Westmoreland, in addition to a similar Primary School initiative islandwide.