Dalton Myers | Much to do for incoming NJ boss, whoever that is
Netball Jamaica (NJ) is about to undergo a leadership change, with president Paula Daley-Morris not contesting the election in November. This has paved the way for a new leader, with recent reports suggesting that Daley-Morris’ first vice-president and ‘heir apparent’, Tricia Robinson, is set to be elevated to the top post.
Article 69(a) of the Netball Jamaica Articles of Incorporation indicates that the president must, among other things, have served at least a full two-year term, which limits the number of persons eligible to four with three of the possible four rumoured to be uninterested in the post. I have never worked with Robinson and cannot comment on her competence or readiness to be president, but I would want to think that if she is elevated to the top position, then the members must see something in her, right?
The Netball Jamaica board has endured some choppy waters over the past few years, dogged by resignations of board members and coaches and public spat with players over various issues. So the next president’s job won’t be an easy one.
Focus on the players
I want to make some suggestions, which I hope he/she will keenly consider. The sport is about the players and not the president. Too often sport in Jamaica is overshadowed and defined by the president, as opposed to the players. The new boss will need to engage the current and past players more. Past players have been there, have toured, and have contributed to this country – and should therefore be listened to more. Maybe the board can follow international traditions and establish a players’ commission, with the president of that body having a seat at the executive table. This would mean adjustments to the articles.
Additionally, the Board will need to establish player-development programmes. These could also be in collaboration with a players’ association. These player-development programmes would focus on developing the complete athlete both on and off the court. Some of the issues NJ faces are primarily due to the fact that players do not believe that the board has their interest at heart and struggle with several of the court issues, where they believe they could get more support.
Articles 107-109 make provisions for a managing director/chief executive officer – this should become a priority. It is not that NJ has not had similar positions in place before, but now is a good time to restructure operations and implement a broader corporate structure. I am sure funding is an issue, but it is really about priorities. If there is a corporate structure, then the persons employed can be mandated to make the organisation more marketable. There are enough persons on the current board who could design the structure and find the right person to lead this charge. I like the idea of a communications director, and this must be encouraged as this person helps to build the brand and image of the organisation while handing media relations.
I have my issues with the semi-pro league, but I believe that with continued work, it can be a good product. The next president must work on developing this product and extending its marketability. Part of the challenges the NJ leagues face is the officials. The strategic plan going forward must include reintroducing and revamping a netball officials’ junior and senior development programme. Having persons performing the roles of coach and player in same competition is a recipe for disaster as, invariably, the biases of these officials are too evident.
Finally, there needs to be a well-planned youth programme. The current players have been playing together (for the most part) since the Under-13/Under-15 age groups and have graduated each stage to now becoming the senior Sunshine Girls. The next president must now look at a plan to invest in and develop the Under-13 , Under-15 and Under-17 programmes as that is where we will get our next set of stars, or else we will struggle to compete with the world’s top four.
Netball is too precious to be on the back burner and too valuable to be marred in constant negative spats on public airwaves. Now is as good time as any for the next candidate to consider how he/she will change some of these perceptions and improve on the foundation already set while fusing that with innovative projects and dynamic leadership.
Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @daltonsmyers