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LETTER OF THE DAY - The Jamaican netballers: cocoons to butterflies

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM

OVER THE past few years, the national netball team has consistently maintained its place among the top four teams in the international netball arena. However, the team did not do as well as they had hoped to do in the World Championships in Singapore in 2011. Never mind placing fourth overall, there seemed to have been some unsettled waters within the delegation.

To see this issue in its entirety and for what it truly is, a backdrop has to be created as accurately as possible. The top three countries in the world as far as netball is concerned are Australia, New Zealand and England. A number of players from each of these countries are semi-professional players and so the business of netball is their major source of income. Conversely, the Jamaican senior league comprises ladies who either work full time, work full time and attend university part time, or who are full-time university students. Hence, the act of creating equity in terms of time, attention and intensity is, to say the least, challenging.

Renewed hope

After returning home from Singapore and amid much disappointment, tears, thought and prayers, the Jamaica Netball Association's president, Mrs Marva Bernard, and her team had a vision of a new JNA: emerging like a butterfly from the cocoon, soaring to new heights.

In August of 2011, reshaping and renewal of the JNA was put in motion. Today, the association has, in addition to squad coaches, a high performance director. All coaches as well as the high performance director work with the athletes and the JNA on a part-time basis. Learning and development sessions for the athletes in all squads, regular management meetings for squad managers, as well as a strong marketing and public relations team are all part of the new landscape. The association continues its feeding programme and, recently, with input from one of Jamaica's leading nutritionists, plans to prepare nutritious meals for the players at the Sunshine Chalet - a gift from the Government of Jamaica. The learning and development sessions include social and professional etiquette, team building and psychological readiness, with more in the pipeline. The JNA aims to produce polished ladies who are professional top-class athletes.

Interestingly, the majority of persons associated with the JNA are volunteers with a burning desire to see Jamaica's netball get the recognition and place on the national podium that it should.

I invite Jamaica, and especially corporate Jamaica, to stand with the ladies of the JNA as they journey to the top of their sport against the odds; support them as they strive for excellence. Together, we will discover that every dark cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Vanda Levy-McMillan

Squad Manager, JNA

Teaching Fellow and Academic Counsellor,

Mona School of Business

vanda.levymcmillan@uwimona.edu.jm