Insisting that a “strong message needed to be sent”, president of the Barbados Netball Association (BNA), Nisha Craigwell has given her assurance that those responsible for last weekend’s brawl will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.
Four women have already been charged following the incident, which occurred on Saturday at the Netball Stadium during a Division 7 game between Structural Systems Silver Raiders and Checker Hall.
The four players have been subsequently suspended from playing.
The fight which initially started between two opposing players, eventually escalated into a huge melee involving spectators.
While describing the brawl as “embarrassing and the worst incident in the sport’s history”, Craigwell told Barbados TODAY it was not an issue which the BNA would be taking lightly.
She did however stop short of saying whether or not life bans would be handed out.
“The disciplinary committee needs to meet and have all of the evidence put forward before a decision is made. Persons are throwing around the talk of life bans because of what happened in basketball, but I do not want to prejudice anybody to make a determination on their fate by just pulling something out of the air . . . . We need facts,” Craigwell explained.
“Having said that, at the end of the day we still want to send a very strong message that this is not something which will be tolerated.”
She said before a decision was made, they would first have to see the reports submitted from the umpires, players, clubs and those persons involved.
Meanwhile, president of the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA), Derrick Garrett has warned Craigwell that all eyes will be on her to see how she deals with the situation.
Garrett and his administration were similarly thrust in the spotlight following the highly publicized “jump kick” incident in 2011, which led to a life ban being placed on Ricardo Yearwood, and again in 2012 after a brawl ensued during a basketball match at the YMCA.
Kirk Shaw too was slapped with a life ban for his role in that brawl, while his younger brother, Tremaine Shaw had his life ban reduced to three years following an appeal and a lengthy apology.
“I know what it is like to be in Nisha’s position and it is a tough one to be in,” Garrett said.
“Especially considering the fact that you can’t control the behaviour of people.
“But it is now really up to the BNA to look at the facts and take decisive action. If it means players have to be disciplined for a long period of time, they will have to decide on that.
“People will judge them not on what the players did, but on how the federation reacts,” he added.
Craigwell admitted that negative events had the potential to permanently taint a sport.
And at a time with sponsorship hard to come by, she lamented the fact that a “couple minutes of stupidity”, could have a long lasting negative effect on the sport.
“Nobody looks forward to seeing anything like that in their sport, whether it is netball or another sport. We have sponsors that we really want to uphold their values, we have other players looking on, we have umpires and many other stakeholders who would obviously be very disappointed in having seen an incident like this,” she acknowledged.
“An incident like this could be quite damaging but at the end of the day it is not something that we would want to tarnish the full reputation of the sport because we actually do have people who have done a lot of work and it is quite unfortunate that a couple minutes of stupidity could tarnish the reputation of an entire sport that persons would have been building on from year to year.”
She revealed that a meeting involving all stakeholders, including the Royal Barbados Police Force would soon be conveyed, as part of their efforts to prevent a possible repeat.