More than a hobby - JN exec urges greater investment in netball
JN Bank executive Janice Robinson-Longmore has urged netballers and administrators of the sport to press for further elevation of the game in an effort to empower women and to position it as an economic tool.
Robinson-Longmore, who is chief of operations at JN Bank, was speaking at the opening ceremony of the JN Bank Open League at the Leila Robinson Courts on Sunday.
Contextualising her message on the theme for International Women's Day on March 8, Robinson-Longmore said there is much to be gained economically from investing more in netball.
She argued that netball can garner the same attention as other sports and should be treated with the same significance.
"With women being the larger segment of our population and the drivers of consumption, we believe that there are developmental and financial benefits that can be made from empowering women, by supporting them and encouraging more females then sporting arena," she posited.
"Just think about the wide range of benefits that could be derived from increased female fandom through merchandising; hosting international games; and the income that could be generated from a host of indirect activities if we support women's sports to become big business."
Robinson-Longmore said netball needs to become more than a hobby for the vast majority of players. She said the sport needs to be positioned so that it can eventually become a lucrative income earner.
"Netball need not be a hobby when we have some of the best players in the world," she argued. "Not all our women will be lawyers, doctors, teachers and nurses; and they do not need to relegate themselves to marginal professions, when there are so many options that they can explore. We are capable of many things and a career in sports is no exception," she said.
Robinson-Longmore concluded: "If we attain that, it's not only our best Jamaican teams which will emerge as champions, but all Jamaican netballers and our Jamaican women!"
Some 1,005 players from 67 teams are participating in the JN Bank Open League, which has been supported by the JN brand for more than 20 years. A total of 322 matches are to be played during the tournament, including 258 preliminary matches across eight zones.
In welcoming the teams during the opening ceremony, president of the Netball of Jamaica, Dr Paula Daley Morris, urged players to maintain respect, discipline and fairness during the course of the tournament.