Two-time defending champions, University of the West Indies Blackbirds, have withdrawn from the 2018 Barbados Netball Association Division One league competition.
BNA president Nisha Craigwell confirmed to Barbados TODAY that the Cave Hill Blackbird side had indeed pulled out of the domestic league. But she opted to remain silent about the circumstances that led to the decision which saw the reigning queens withdrawing from the competition and in so doing forfeiting what could have possibly been a wonderful opportunity for them to repeat as champions for a third consecutive year.
Craigwell, however, made it clear that it was only from the league that the Margaret Cutting-coached UWI side, comprising of six national players, including goal-shooter Shonica Wharton, had removed themselves. They are still in the knockout competition which is scheduled for sometime later this year.
“They pulled out of the league competition, not the knockout and I am not sure if I want to make public the reason. But it is already public knowledge that they are quite a few players that are injured, that would have represented the national team at the Commonwealth Games,” Craigwell said.
Stating the impact this sudden move would have on the league, the BNA president said: “Any sport with a defending champion pulling out will definitely affect the standard of the league and they [UWI] had six persons representing the national team… But at the end of the day, they [UWI] are looking out for the best interest of the country in the long run and also for the players.
“I am sure they would have sought medical advice and so on. It is unfortunate and of course we (BNA) would have preferred if UWI was playing but bearing in mind it is just the league. We still have the knockout competition and they have not pulled out of the knockout competition, at least not at this stage.”
Just last week it was speculated that the local netball association was considering re-opening registration to accommodate those teams in Division One who had players recovering from injury. However, the BNA executive board thus far has taken the decision not to do so for the sake of all parties involved.