The Pine Hill Dairy-sponsored National Sports Council’s Primary Schools Netball Competition got underway today with the opening ceremony and parade of teams at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. Seventy-one teams paraded before officials of the Barbados Netball Association (BNA), Pine Hill Dairy and coaches.
President of the BNA, Nisha Cummins, urged the young netballers to enjoy their sport and to also pay attention to their standard of play.
“Have you examined our national players recently in terms of where they originated? Whether it is Under-16, Under-21 or our senior nationals, they commenced by playing netball in this competition. I therefore urge you to enjoy your games but pay special attention to your standard of play because many of you will be required to take netball from its current world ranking of ninth in the world to number one,” Cummins told the young aspiring netballers.
She told the girls participating in the parade to reach for the stars and highlighted players such as Barbados Under-16 captain Shaniqua Thomas and Shonica Wharton who were present during the ceremony wearing their national senior netball uniform.
“I wish to make special mention of Shaniqua Thomas. She made her first team at age eleven, the selectors chose Shaniqua from right here in this netball competition. This year she won the president’s award and her third most valuable player award. We pray that you continue to reach for the stars and follow Shaniqua’s example and remember always that the sky is the limit,” Cummins said.
She added the BNA would also be embarking on a program to brand the senior national team, so that their profile would be lifted.
“Through the National Sports Council and the players we wish to have an affectionate name for our team to ensure that whenever it is called it is synonymous with netball and outstanding team dynamics,” Cummins said.
There are ten zones in the competition this year which are named after several personalities involved with the sport at varying levels over the years: Marva Sealy; Angela Gibbs; Anna Shepherd; Kathy Harper- Hall; Pamala Proverbs; Agnes Crichlow; Marion Johnson Hurley; Aleen Moore Jeffers; Inez Taylor and Carolyn Sinckler.
Shelly Phillips, Pine Hill Dairy category manager, said Barbados was ranked ninth in the world and Pine Hill believed that through their efforts and continued support that ranking could go into the top five which was very attainable. The company has been sponsoring netball for the past 32 years.
“Pine Hill as a company represents a brand and we understand development as our milks and nutrients are all packed with nutrients which are essential for your good health and for your young developing bodies. We want to share with you that we are always excited to partner with activities which foster this because we don’t only want to support you with our product but we want you to participate in activities which foster that competitive spirit which we all know is inside all of us.”
Chairman of the National Sports Council Michael Power said netball was not just a game but also provided valuable life lessons.
“It teaches us about failure, joy, disappointment and excitement, about winning and losing, it teaches about maturity, humility and selflessness. But above all since no man is an island it teaches us to work as a team. It is only through such rigorous competition that the best of our young talent can own their skills,” he said.
At the end of the parade Belmont Primary was adjudged the best team on parade.
The Aileen Moore Jeffers Memorial opening rally was contested among the teams and over a five minute period on a knockout basis. It was won by Blackman and Gollop Primary School which scored the most goals – ten. The final score was 1-1 which forced the game into sudden death. St Giles had the first shot at goal and missed, which saw Blackman and Gollop capitalizing on this and scoring first. This brought the score to 2-1 in favor of Blackman and Gollop.
Matches in the Marva Sealy zone will be played at the Speightstown, St Peter hardcourts tomorrow. Eleven games will be contested.