Dalton Myers | A transfer fee for netballers
Netball Jamaica has been receiving some flak from fans, players and the media over the past couple of years. In my opinion, some of it is warranted while some originates from the 'penny section' at the back.
Interestingly, despite everything that has been happening, there are a few positives such as the silver medal at the 2017 Fast5 Netball Competition, as well as several players being recruited to ply their trade overseas for professional leagues in Australia, New Zealand and England/Scotland. Currently, there are eight active players in those leagues namely; Romelda Aiken, Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, Shemona Nelson, Shantal Slater, Vanessa Walker, Shamera Sterling and Malysha Kelly. There are also those who played in these professional leagues before such as Shanice Beckford, Nicole Dixon and Vangelee Williams.
The recruiting of these players will have a positive impact on them and their families both in terms of the financial reward as well as the opportunity to further develop their skills. This is also in light of the fact that in Jamaica, it's impossible to earn anything significant from the elite netball league. For most senior netballers in Jamaica, the support comes from the tertiary institutions such as The Mico University College, University of the West Indies, G.C. Foster College and University of Technology as well as the respective clubs; while at the junior level, high schools fill that role. Therefore, the aim for most senior players is to be recruited overseas.
I would, however, like to see a system in place to use this opportunity to help develop netball locally.
Netball Jamaica should seek to partner with either the netball governing bodies in these countries or the overseas clubs themselves. Since these netballers are developed through a local club then a transfer fee or development fee should be negotiated for them as part of the return on their investments.
Now I know you may ask me 'which club?' since some players feature for a team e.g. Jamalco in one competition, and franchise teams such as Hummingbirds in another. In this case, I would suggest the local clubs since it has been responsible for developing these players and Hummingbirds is part of a franchise system that cannot currently develop players outside of competition.
In the 2017 Vitality Netball Super League Nicole Aiken-Pinnock awarded best goalkeeper. For this 2018 season, she is now a better known in the netball fraternity, and her brand will be used to attract sponsors and fans to her UWS Sirens. Her local club should then benefit. Some have suggested that Netball Jamaica should also receive financial reward since they are responsible for overall development of athletes.
That is a slippery slope as in most cases National Sporting Organisations manage, coordinate and plan events as well as prepare athletes for national duty.
Unless Netball Jamaica has changed its focus and replaced the role of the clubs, I could not agree with that point.
The idea of a development or transfer fee would require more careful discussion as you would not want the clubs overseas to believe they are being ripped off or to see this fee as a burden, as opposed to assisting in the development of the sport in Jamaica. Neither would we want them to pass on that fee to the athletes, hence reducing their benefits.
Finally, I know Netball Jamaica has rigorous competition rules and regulations for local competitions and so on, but I would also recommend:
1. The Paula Daley-Morris-led board look carefully at setting up a comprehensive transfer system for both local and international transfers, as well as a recruitment policy
2. That this policy includes support for local clubs
3. That the top local clubs be asked to start restructuring their management systems to include contracts for senior players
4. That they look at the Elite League and see how these teams can be paired with current clubs so there is no confusion over who owns the right to a player.
A systematic approach is needed and quickly, as we must ensure that our local programme benefits from these opportunities. I know this could be much ado about nothing but then again, what do I really know?
- Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.