Dalton Myers | Time for Netball Jamaica to mend broken fences
The post-mortem on the Sunshine Girls’ performance at the just-concluded INF Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, is still ongoing. The ill-fated trip could mark the perfect starting point for the local board to restructure the organisation and team management. However, instead the board seems to be imploding, and with impending elections, we are in for a rocky few months.
There have been some unfortunate comments and a sequence of events that must not reoccur in the future, but strong leadership will be required. The comments as reported in the local media and made by players suggested that there were some issues between the players and the coaching staff. Then there were comments attributed to Netball Jamaica (NJ) President Paula Daley-Morris suggesting “changes” to the coaching staff, even though the competition was still ongoing and no post-evaluation done as yet. Then, comments reported in this newspaper from assistant coach Winston Nevers for me was probably the most problematic of them all. I know and have a lot of respect for Nevers, but I think pointing out players even before a report is sent to the board or any post-evaluation conducted is quite unfortunate. Keep in mind that Nevers is the team’s assistant coach, and he basically called out players and his superior, Marvette Anderson, in those quotes taken from a radio interview. In fact, I would humbly suggest that Nevers retract those comments and rather discuss any issues with the board, along with Anderson.
The problem for our netball programme is that even if/when those tournament reports are tabled, we may never know. I have said before that there is enough blame to go around but each member on that tour must take some amount of blame. I think the coaches have to take a greater share because of the role they play; their job is more about tactical and team management than skills training.
If NJ decides to part ways with the coaches from the World Cup, then there must now be a strategy going forward. We really do not need someone to teach skills, but rather persons who are good at managing players both on and off the court. Most of our top netballers play overseas, getting high-level competition and technical work; so the job of the next head coach will be to integrate those players, who they do not see for at least eight months of the year, with the local ones.
There are also issues to deal with from a team perspective. We need to have better nutrition and strength and conditioning programmes for our locally based players, while including a sport psychologist as part of the set-up early. I know the constant cry is that there is limited funding, and that may be true. However, I think NJ has isolated so many willing volunteers over the past few years that even some of the persons with these skill sets stay far from the programme. The social-media feedback from my last column gives the impression that several persons, both locally and in the diaspora, want to contribute. It’s time to mend fences. My hope is that we see netball as a key part of our sport industry and ‘Brand Jamaica’, and come together to help build it.
On another note, while I think changes to the NJ eligibility criteria are needed, I am wary of the new calls to have the criteria for the role of president changed immediately and with such urgency, unless there are adjustments due to extenuating circumstances. If two or three of the eligible candidates make themselves available, would we still be clamouring for immediate change? The framers of the articles got it wrong and had many chances to adjust but did not. The time is ripe for change, but let’s have the election under the current articles and then immediately move to revamp the constitutional issues, including a review of some of the recommendations I made in my previous column.
Finally, might I suggest that the board takes the next year to do stakeholder consultations and create robust, but creative strategic and operational plans. Get more people involved! There are enough out there who have great ideas in moving netball forward.
Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to email@example.com or tweet @daltonsmyers