Quality, as it should, always wins out in the end and Blackman and Gollop put face to that at the Netball Stadium yesterday.
The accolade of best primary school netballers in the island will be heading to the school irrespective of any further result this year, as both “A” and “B” teams have made it into the final of the Pine Hill Dairy-sponsored National Sports Council’s (NSC) Primary Schools Netball Tournament following yesterday’s semi-final matches.
Led by Sierra Deane-McCollin’s accurate shooting that garnered her 12 goals from 15 attempts, and the assistance of Nia Alleyne-Ward who scored six goals from 11 attempts, Blackman and Gollop “B” defeated Grantley Prescod 18-9 in a competitive match-up.
Though beaten Grantley Prescod were not disgraced but simply fell to a better opponent. Donnelle Trotman scored all nine goals for her school but had very little offensive assistance from her fellow goal-attacks and goal-shoots.
In the other semi-final, Blackman and Gollop “A” simply ‘girlhandled’ West Terrace by a margin of 26-5. Danesha Davis scored 17 goals from 30 attempts, an indication of the heavy offensive pressure her team put on West Terrace, even if she would have preferred to improve on that shooting percentage.
Davis’ team-mate T’shanni Payne was not as prolific but was much more accurate as she sank nine goals from her ten attempts.
Blackman and Gollop A were also terrific in defence, limiting West Terrace to very few offensive opportunities, mainly through ball interceptions and savvy positional play. Roshea Williams had four goals from seven attempts and Azariah Coombs-Griffith, one from six for West Terrace.
Blackman and Gollop’s achievement today would have been particularly pleasing for the school as the teams have made the final despite the best efforts of some officials at the NSC, and some primary schools, to frustrate the efforts of the St David’s, Christ Church-located school during this year’s tournament.
During the season the NSC had tried unsuccessfully to have Blackman and Gollop’s B team dropped out of the competition because of the presence of class 4 girls in the side. A number of schools took their cue from the NSC and also refused to play against the school. This led to a situation where the school’s A team went four weeks with only one game despite the tournament being in full swing.
The confusion reached such a height that interim chairman of the NSC, Jerry Blenman, was forced to issue an apology to Blackman and Gollop for what he called an “unfortunate misunderstanding”. Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley, stressing that children should not be frustrated and prevented from playing sports, also issued a directive that Blackman and Gollop had not broken any existing written rule of the NSC and that the children had to be allowed to take part in the competition without impediment.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY after his teams’ success, coach Calvin Briggs said it felt good but added he would only be able to savour it all when the final was played. He said his teams would then be able to move forward after all the controversy between them and the National Sports Council.
“I hope that it is now all over but I can’t smile just yet. I can’t feel good yet although the semi-finals have been played. I can’t smile yet until it’s all over,” Briggs said.
He added that there wasn’t much time for preparation for the finals but added both the A and B teams were obviously familiar with each others style of play and that even though many would favour the A team, the B squad were also good netballers.
Briggs added that should anything arise tomorrow at the Wildey Gymnasium where the final is scheduled for 1 p.m., he intended to walk with his whistle and become a referee if he had to because he expected many from Blackman and Gollop Primary to be at the Gymnasium to support the teams.
“Tomorrow, regardless of what the National Sports Council decides, as long as the management of the Gymnasium Limited allows me to, I will travel with my whistle and I will go from the role of coach to umpire, because half the school will be cheering for the A team while the other half will cheer for the B team,” said Briggs, who has won the title four times in the history of the competition.
As far as today’s semifinals were concerned he said the B team had a tough game against Grantley Prescod.
“They had a definite height advantage because of their goal-attack, but we applied pressure on the smaller players and that strategy worked pretty well in our favour.”
Where West Terrace was concerned he explained that they knew what to expect. “We knew that they would play a pretty fast paced team, so we ran them into the ground in the first quarter which was hectic and we knew we would have the stamina to outlast West Terrace.”