Barbadian netballers have cause for celebration. A long requested internationally graded floor is among the upgrades at the refurbished Garfield Sobers Sports Complex that was recently handed over to the Government.
Speaking during yesterday’s opening ceremony at the 38th Annual Barbados Workers’ Union’s (BWU) Netball Tournament at the Netball Stadium, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, announced that the doors to the newly refurbished complex were now open and outfitted with a state of the art floor built specifically for the sport of netball.
“I want to assure the president [Nisha Craigwell] that when we spent $19 million in the refurbishment of the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, we were listening all along to her cries for having an internationally graded floor,” Lashley said in the presence of the Barbados Netball Association (BNA) president Nisha Craigwell and BWU president, Toni Moore,
“This facility can be used as a training venue for overseas teams, which may be looking for facilities in a warmer climate to train for upcoming tournaments…I would like to invite the netball association to see this as an opportunity for them to stage major international netball tournaments in Barbados. You now have an excellent facility in which to do so,” Lashley said.
A total of 25 teams are scheduled to participate in the competition in four respective zones. These are the Leroy Trotman, Gabby Scott, Ulric Sealy and Linda Brook zones.
During the ceremony, national senior vice captain Latonia Blackman, Sabrina Smith, Sheniqua Thomas and Amanda Knight were all recognized for their continued participation over the years in the tournament and Craigwell expressed how grateful the BNA was for partners and entities such as the Barbados Workers Union for their continued support given to the sport of netball.
She also spoke about the success of the 11th ranked Barbados senior team, which qualified for the Gold Coast tournament next April in Australia, by defeating fourth-ranked Jamaica after 30 years, and went on to play unbeaten against Trinidad.
However, Craigwell said she was concerned with the plight facing the sport regionally.
“Even though we are happy to represent our country, we are saddened by the state of netball in the region….Our biggest shortfall is taking care of our coaches. We have been for a long time, trying to secure a technical director. The resources have been approved and we are now at the stage of selecting the right personnel for our programme. We are hoping that this programme attracts all coaches in Barbados to ensure that the project is a success. Coaching is an area that requires a lot of attention if we are to be successful in raising the bar, in the standard of play for netball in Barbados,” Craigwell said.
In keeping with their motto which states, Unity is Strength, BWU president Moore recognized sports as a powerful medium that could be used to bring about unity.
“With spiralling crime plaguing life in our society, the Barbados Workers Union regards this as an opportunity to build on our current commitment in the area of organized netball and cricket. It is our hope that we can expand beyond these two sports to have a healthy and outstanding tournament. We also recognize the opportunity for Government, other agencies and communities to continue to see amongst other things, how sports can be used more widely to provide an outlet to help our youths, particularly to assist those that are regarded as youth at risk,” she said.
After the respective speeches, Chickmont Ballers stood out during the opening parade and captured the prize for best team on parade and best-displayed banner as judged by Mona Alleyne, Melissa Farley and Cherri Boyce.