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Bernard on Pan Am mission for netball

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:41 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Bernard
Bernard

Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) president Marva Bernard says that the expected inclusion of Netball for the next Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games provides a platform for the sport to be eventually considered as an Olympic sport.

Bernard was speaking yesterday shortly before leaving the island for the Regional SportAccord Pan America Conference in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, which started on Monday and finishes tomorrow.

The three day event brings together global sports federations and regional figures in the sports community. The executive body of the Central American and Caribbean Organization (CACSO) recently accepted Netball along with two other sports to be included in the CAC Games beginning in 2022 in Panama.

She is attending the conference on behalf of the International Netball Federation (INF) and in her role as AFNA president. She believes that pending the ratification of the decision next year, its inclusion will be a huge opportunity for the sport to take place in other global games.

“The more we are in these multi-discipline games, it augers well for the growth (of the sport) and for us to get into the big dance (the Olympics),” Bernard told The Gleaner.

Bernard, who was elected AFNA president last year, also says that the decision will offer more countries in the Americas the chance to improve and grow the game in their nations.

Opportunities

“There (would be) more opportunities for countries to play and all the countries want to have a world ranking and they need eight games in a period to be ranked,” Bernard said. “So there will be opportunities for more countries to have internationals, because we really want the growth and development of netball. So the more countries in this region that play the sport, it will enhance the development of the game.”

Bernard will hope to convince the other local associations in the Americas of the benefits of making the sport a feature in the next CAC Games, saying that she has a good chance of gaining support for the approval based on the pitch to the CASCO body in October, which included INF CEO Clare Briegal.

“I think my chances are very good because several of the countries who are already members of the CAC, play Netball. A lot of lobbying has already been going on with the CAC,” Bernard said. “Based on the presentation that we did at the General Assembly in October, we got a good response from the membership. So when it comes back before them next year, I want it to be possible that it would be ratified.

Benard says that the conference will provide an opportunity to begin discussions to include the sport at the Pan American Games but says that the expected ratification will be the key that she hopes will allow further developments in this vein.