Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Dr Paul Wright | Sunshine Girls gold, closer than ever

Published:Tuesday | April 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica's Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (centre) catches a pass under the challenge of England's Ama Agbeze (left) and Geva Mentor during their Commonwealth Games semi-final recently. England won 56-55 and eventually won the gold medal. Jamaica won bronze after defeating New Zealand.PHOTO by Collin Reid courtesy of Guardian Life, Courts, VMBS, Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and Alliance Investments

"Sometimes third, most times, fourth." That quote resonated again as our Sunshine Girls copped the bronze medal in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.

Our girls left these shores determined to medal at the Games, and they did. On the way to the Gold Coast in Australia, they competed in an international tournament, where they signalled their intent by playing some of the best netball seen by a Jamaican team for some time. Thus, we, their loyal fans, hoped that at last, the true ability of our girls would be on show.

During the competition at that Commonwealth Games, they started out like the champions we know they are, beating every opponent placed in front of them. The size of the defeat by Australia in the preliminaries caused some worry, but at least our girls would now move on to the gold-medal match (or so we thought). We reached the semi-finals, as expected, but the one-point loss to England initially hurt, until we looked again at how the team played against opponents who are not as athletically gifted as we obviously are.


'Silly' turnovers


As usual, it was our concentration in the fourth quarter and 'silly' turnovers that caused our defeat. But then, in the final, the mighty Australia were seen to be forced into the exact same 'silly' mistakes that happened to us by an excellently coached England team.

The Australians were beaten by one point in a dramatic last-second penalty/foul! In the bronze-medal match, we easily defeated a New Zealand team that must be going through some sort of rebuilding programme. They were no longer a team to be feared. They had now become somewhat of a 'good' opponent against whom we could adjust tactics and give fringe players a chance to shine. So, we ended up in third place. That's usual, but this time, the signs are there. I do believe that if Netball Jamaica can improve their 'management' of this squad and keep them together, it is only a matter of time before we assume our rightful place at the pinnacle of world netball. Go, girls!

In cricket, another former board member of the board of West Indies cricket, Sir Hilary Beckles, has, at last, realised that as presently structured, the governance of our cricket in these islands will only continue in this downward spiral that is disconcerting, to say the least. Sir Hilary is quoted as saying, "It is obvious to all, at home and abroad, that the governance of West Indian cricket has reached a perilous state and that the place where there was once universal respect is now riddled with ridicule."

He goes on to say, "After two decades of performance decline, efforts to chart a path of resilience and recovery have failed. The evidence of obvious failure emanates from the system of governance and accountability that has let down the community of cricketers and the wider society."

Now, where have we heard similar sentiments? I know! There have been similar sentiments expressed in every review of West Indies cricket requested by the same board, as well as reviews by fans, cricket writers and governments of the region. All these reviews and their recommendations have been pooh-poohed and shelved, while a group of men, so enamoured by their ability to inflict vengeance on any who dare to question their competence, continue on the same path of self-aggrandisement and a shameful neglect of what is the necessary key to the ignition of progress - their resignation and removal.

Sir Hilary, the majority of West Indian cricket fans are with you 100 per cent in this fight. I can assure you, Sir, that with your help, along with CARICOM's subcommittee on cricket, we will prevail.