Sun | Sep 19, 2021
Women of Distinction

Molly Rhone, the woman who made Jamaica a bigger name in World netball

Published:Monday | February 22, 2021 | 1:34 AMLennox Aldred/ Gleaner Writer
Molly Rhone

When one mentions the word netball in Jamaica, right off the bat, and in this case, the ball, Molly Rhone's name comes to mind.

Rhone has taken the sport of Netball locally to the global stage, first as a player and then in later years as an administrator.

The Manchester native was always involved in sports, beginning with her sojourn in netball and also track and field at Knox College.

It was her exploits on the track and in the field, that caught the attention of the then school netball coach who was impressed with Rhone’s agility and speed.

It was no surprise she was selected for the school’s senior netball team at just 13 years old.

Her progress throughout the years saw Rhone getting her chance at the national level, where she got the honour to captain the Under-21, Under-23 and Reserve teams before being selected as a member of the Jamaica team to the second World Netball Tournament in Perth, Australia, in 1967.

Though sport was a major part of her life, her parents Violet and Adolfus Dacosta also wanted her to pursue her education, and with that, Rhone left Jamaica to enrol at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in Canada where she lived and worked for seven years while studying information technology.

The Netball bug continued to bite, and so she got involved in the sport while in Canada where she became heavily involved in the Canada Netball Association and captained both the Provincial and National netball teams. Such was her good work, the Ontario government presented her with three awards for her contribution to sports.

After completing her Diploma, Rhone returned to her beloved island where she began her professional life, working in data processing before joining Air Jamaica where she spent a total of 21 years, first as Senior Systems Analyst, and later as Director of Information Technology.

Rhone was determined to continue her netball career while holding down her corporate gig, and she rejoined the national netball team and was vice-captain of the Jamaican delegation to the fourth World Championship in New Zealand in 1975.

After hanging up her boots, it was a natural progression for Rhone to enter into administration and it was there that some of her most notable achievements manifested.

In 2003, after the successful hosting of the Netball World Championship in Jamaica, Rhone was elected President of the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA). With this appointment, she became the first Jamaican to head an International Sports Federation.

So good was Rhone as a leader, 16 consecutive years of dedication to the sport of Netball would follow, where she would go on to make strides in the development of the sport, which garnered increasing participation numbers and membership internationally.

She was instrumental in launching and promoting “Goal” and “Netball Safaris,” two community projects based in India and Africa, respectively.

For these programmes, the International Federation of Netball Associations received the Peace in Sports, Sports in the City and Beyond Sports Awards.

Rhone’s international accolades did not go unnoticed as she was asked to serve on several local boards as well as on the International Olympic Committee's Sport and Active Societies Commission, the Association of Recognised Sports Federations and FIFA’s Governance Committee.

By the time Rhone had stepped down from her role as IFNA President in 2019, the affable Manchester native had been fittingly rewarded by the Government of Jamaica for her dedicated service to the sport of Netball more than once.

Rhone received her first national honour in 1999 when she was awarded the Order of Distinction, Officer Class. In 2007, she was the recipient of the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for her contribution to local and international sports, in particular Netball. In 2011, she received her third national award, the Order of Jamaica, for services locally and internationally in Sports Administration, in particular, Netball.