NJ seeks land for own courts
Dania Bogle, Gleaner Writer
A blueprint of the perfect building has been completed and Netball Jamaica (NJ) is now in search of the right location to build its own facility for the Sunshine Girls to train.
"It is on the table of projects to be pursued because it is painful for us to try to afford the electricity to use the National Indoor Sports Centre (NISC), which is not built to be used without that (electricity), or the National Arena," NJ president, Marva Bernard, told The Gleaner, at a special lunch hosted for the Sunshine Girls by team sponsors Wisynco, at the company's Lakes Pen corporate office on Friday.
The national netball teams, including the senior Sunshine Girls, national Under-16 and Under-21 squads have had to use the hard surfaces of the Leila Robinson Courts to train during normal periods, while the netball association faces astronomical electricity bills to use the National Arena and NISC to train on the wooden courts in preparation for tours and series.
A permanent facility would help to ease that burden, Bernard said.
"We all know the Leila Robinson is not what elite athletes train on and so it's just a stop-gap measure for us and when it rains we are affected," she pointed out.
The design for a netball-dedicated building was created by architect, Errol Alberga.
Two sprung wooden floors, which were brought down for the local governing body to host the 2003 World Netball Championships, are available for use.
"There are two sets of floors leaned up. I believe that if we can get a permanent place that can accommodate those floors, these girls will not have the insecurity where they can train. The building was designed with thoughts to ventilation," said Bernard.
She had originally hoped to build the courts on land at the Netball Chalet on Widcombe Road in Kingston. However, that would not be possible as the covenant agreement does not allow. The netball body acquired the facility on a 50-year lease from the Government through then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding.
"You have to dream big and think big," Bernard said of their plans.
The Sunshine Girls are preparing to face England in a Test series in Jamaica in January and had their training at the Leila Robinson Courts interrupted because of an electrocution problem at the facility.
"The Stadium closed for all this time certainly set back the training and when they had to go on hard surfaces it affected the injuries that the girls had. So it's not a good situation at all," said Bernard, adding that they have been able to use the courts at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
"They are behind, but we are very appreciative of the gesture from UWI. They will not be affected by the weather and they will be able to ramp up training."
Meanwhile, Wisynco announced a $5 million sponsorship in the form of cash and products for the Sunshine Girls on Friday. Wisynco will be the official hydration sponsor for NJ, supplying WATA, CranWATA and Powerade to the national programme over the next year.