Blackman and Gollop won and lost, and won again, in the final of the Pine Hill Dairy-sponsored National Sports Council’s Primary Schools Netball Tournament this afternoon.
Playing at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Blackman and Gollop A defeated Blackman and Gollop B 21-11 in an exciting match before a large, cheering crowd, and stamped their authority as the best primary school netballers in the island. Blackman and Gollop A were also the defending champions.
“I can now sleep tonight. It’s been a long dreary road but we finally made it here,’’ the school’s inspirational coach Calvin Briggs said after the game.
Those were the words of coach Calvin Briggs who breathe a sigh of relief after his team’s Blackman and Gollop A and B contested the finals of the Pinehill Dairy sponsored National Sports Council (NSC) Primary Schools Netball competition at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Goal attack T’Shanni Payne of the A team was named the Most Valuable Player after a thrilling shooting display that saw her netting 14 goals from 17 attempts.
The A team led the first three quarters 4-2, 10-5 and 15-9 as goal-shoot for the A side Danesha Davis contributed seven of 17. Meanwhile for the B team, goal-attack Sierra Deane-McCollin demonstrated her shooting skills as she scored eight goals from nine attempts while goal-shoot Nia Alleyne-Ward sank three of eight. But they found the going tough against the A team who used their experience and was able to execute well.
That the two teams made the final was a testimony to the talent at the school and the training programme to which the girls are exposed.
Briggs told Barbados TODAY that after all the controversy which surrounded this year’s competition, the rules and the whole outlook on the sport of netball needed to be looked at seriously in Barbados.
“I hope the rules that are put in place [for next year] are put in such a way that it can uplift the entire development of the sport. I would like to see the administrators of the National Sports Council take a closer look at the rules in such a way that it seeks to develop the sports more and not necessarily put things in place that Blackman and Gollop don’t come first or second again or that another school doesn’t have two teams in the final,” said Briggs.
Briggs, a dominant coach in a sport usually commanded by females, is perhaps the most successful netball coach at the primary school level on the island. He led St Mary’s Primary to the trophy in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and continued at Blackman and Gollop by doing the double in 2014 and now this year after being at the school for the past four years.
Briggs expressed reservations about the lowering of poles to accommodate primary school shooters, as well as the fact that two ten-minute halves of the competition have now been split into two five minute halves.
‘’We have some children here in primary school who are bordering on six feet and to have them shooting in an eight foot pole, they are adjusting their shooting technique to shoot at a lower pole. Then when they make the transition to secondary school or even the adult level it’s a two-foot difference in height and then it’s hard for them to make the transition. Children who pride themselves on being goal-shooters at primary school, they go to secondary school and are asked to play a totally different role because the pole is so far up there now.
“Even if it’s not the full ten feet, [it should be] at least one foot more [than eight]. This was in place before and the scores were low, so the administrators at the Sports Council decided that it would be best to lower the height of the poles but that was the wrong move. The correct move should have been to put more emphasis on the shooters and get them to score in those ten foot poles,’’ Briggs said.
He explained that when he coached at St Mary’s Primary they played for two ten-minute halves for the regular games and would score 35 goals. But the Sports Council in an attempt to stamp out what he referred to as lop-sided games, has now reduced playing time to two five-minute halves.
He charged that administrators were doing everything to hide flaws and very little to remedy them. He added he hoped to see that change.
Commenting on the final, Briggs said that despite the B team’s loss they were made up of very good players who gelled well together and should do well come next year.
West Terrace came third when they came from behind to win 10-8 over Grantley Prescod in a closely contested game which went 3-1, 4-3 to Grantley Prescod before West Terrace turned things around in the penultimate quarter 7-4.
Among the prizes awarded this afternoon Blackman and Gollop won the team’s shooting competition while Wilkie Cumberbatch and Vauxhall came second and third respectively. Blackman and Gollop also claimed two individual awards with best goal-defence in Kimani Archer and goalkeeper in Xaria Knight.
A special scholarship worth $500 was won by Deasha Chase of Belmont Primary who will be attending Deighton Griffith Secondary in September. According to netball stalwart Kathy Harper-Hall, who is the person behind the idea, the award will go to a young netballer who will continue to play and develop herself in the sport even when she leaves primary school.
Other individual prizes went to West Terrace wing-attack Adonnia Phillips and their goal-defence Rhasian Hunte. Deshonte Benskin of Chalky Mount was named top goal-shoot. Rebecca Simpson of Wilkie Cumberbatch won the individual shooting competition while her teammate Toriann Newton was second and Emily Odwin of St Winifred’s School third. St Ambrose Primary was named most improved team of the competition.