President of the International Federation of Netball Associations, Molly Rhone, has urged local officials to do all in their power to get more females on the netball courts in Barbados.
Rhone, who gave the feature address at the awards and opening ceremony of the Barbados Netball Association (BNA) for the 2013 domestic season at Combermere School Hall, Waterford, St Michael, Saturday evening, reminded her audience of the role netball played in the lives of women and girls.
“Netball changes lives and we must be certain that we are doing everything we can to get more women and girls on the netball courts,” Rhone said.
The distinguished Jamaican netball administrator informed those in attendance that netball was the fastest growing sport in the United Kingdom and alluded to an initiative in Tonga which was supported by the government of Australia that has seen more than 370 teams playing the game there.
Rhone stressed how much she enjoyed being in Barbados and issued a call to the BNA to bring more international netball to the island.
“I love being in Barbados with all of you netballers. So why not bring some netball events to this beautiful island? It is important that the Barbados Netball Association bring more netball events here and show what netball can do to contribute to the economy,” Rhone said.
She lamented that the island had not been producing more international coaches and umpires, pointing out that there were massive opportunities in coaching.
The former Jamaica Under-21 and Under-23 captain expressed her disappointment over the lack of international umpires in the region, noting that New Zealand had ten, followed by Australia with eight, England with six, Jamaica with four, South Africa three, Trinidad and Tobago two and Barbados one.
“This is truly disappointing. It is imperative that we have more umpires from the region who can officiate in games around the globe,” Rhone said.
The top sports administrator is the only Jamaican female to head an international sports body. In 2011, she received her country’s fourth highest honour – The Order Of Jamaica. Rhone represented Jamaica at the Neball World Championships in 1967 and 1975.
A highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of Lifetime Awards by the Barbados Association of Netball Umpires to Deborah Lynch-Theobalds, Harriet Waithe and founding member of the BNA, Kathy Harper-Hall.
C.O. Williams Rangers, who dominated the 2013 season, copped several awards for winning the Premier and Division 4 titles, along with the junior competition. They placed second in the Division 2 and 4 competitions and were runners-up in the junior knockout competition. The UWI Blackbirds were adjudged the best team on parade.