Fri | Feb 23, 2018

Follow The Trace | A 'hairy' situation

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The recent decision by new Sunshine Girls head coach Jermaine Allison-McCracken to boot three members of the national senior team continues to cause a stir across the local netball and general sports fraternity.

Opinions are predictably split between those in support of the actions of the new coach and those in support for the now suspended players. However, it is a no-brainer for me. The coach is the person in ultimate control and with full responsibility for matters relating to training methods, tactics, and team selection. It is completely the prerogative of the coach to fairly and appropriately discipline members of the team she is charged with preparing.

The three ladies involved in this latest saga, Shanice Beckford, Khadijah Williams and Nicole Dixon, were to varying degrees guilty of open defiance of the coach's instructions, an offence that is reasonably punishable by suspension at this level of sport. The point of no return is nay whenever sports stars begin to see themselves as indispensable.

Certainly, a new coach with as challenging a mandate for change as Mrs Allison-McCracken has, must act fairly and decisively to set the tone for the journey down the path of change.

One could empathise with the suspended players if it could be reasonably deemed that the new training measures and exercises being introduced were foreign, extreme or draconian. Incredibly, the epicentre of this controversy seems to revolve around the desire of the national coach for senior team representatives to spend more time in the swimming pool.

There is now of course, talk about the WAY the coach talks to the players, and suggestions that she is a dictator with a touch of sophisticated arrogance. There is even talk of a possible "swimming phobia" sweeping through the national netball squad. The rhetoric goes from the sublime to the ridiculous with the revelation that the real problem is that the majority of the sunshine girls are against the frequent pool exercises because they do not want to get their hair wet.




Word is that when the girls do the swimming drills, their expensive hairstyles get severely compromised, often to the degree of thousands of dollars. The story continues that most of the girls have to go about their normal lives as office workers and university students with their hair in a mess.

Human beings are naturally resistant to change, even when change could ultimately be beneficial to the individual and wider good. I posit the example of the Reggae Boyz' former Brazilian football coach RenÈ Simies, who upon his first arrival in Jamaica in 1994, sought to change every minute detail of how Jamaicans thought about football, how we govern the game, and how we played the game.

At the time, Simies had several detractors, squabbles, spats and even confrontations with members of the football family, including some of his star players. The feisty little Brazilian was called everything ranging from a "madman" to a "cab driver".

Within three years, Simoes's status shifted from villain to Jamaica's favourite honorary son, as he historically guided the Reggae Boyz to the promised land of the World Cup Finals in 1998. There are absolutely no guarantees or even indicators to suggest that coach Allison-McCracken will commensurately replicate Simoes' football success, in netball, but she has started out with the right attitude, which is obviously ruffling some HAIR.