As the Barbados Netball Association (BNA) prepares to celebrate 45 years of existence in March, president Nisha Craigwell said though the organisation was fortunate to have a rich past, there was yet a path to be discovered.
As a sporting organisation with one of the largest participating numbers with seven league divisions, the BNA remains without a title sponsor heading into the 2020 season which begins March 15 at the Netball Stadium.
During the BNA awards ceremony held on Sunday night at the Daphne Joseph-Hackett Theatre in Queen’s Park, Craigwell said that the BNA’s executive from this year would transform the association into an entity that operates closer to that of a business.
Under the theme Celebrating Our Sport, Craigwell explained that going the business route would afford BNA members including athletes, greater benefits such as Insurance policies administered through the Barbados Olympic Association.
Craigwell noted that while the BNA was measured by the success of its various national teams, members of Barbados’ senior national team ranked 12th in the world continued to face the plight of unemployment. The long-standing president therefore called on corporate Barbados to give back and encouraged those passionate about the sport to offer support not only for the senior women but also for local league competitions.
“What I would encourage is for full positive support not only during these competitions but throughout our local leagues. When our athletes are in competition, the constant negatives that are often bestowed on them can derail the toughest member of any team. At the end of the day, our beloved Bajan Gems are world-class athletes who just require some additional resources to get them to the next level. Give them the respect that they truly deserve.
“An area that has always been of great concern to me personally, is where we have several national players who are unemployed. They rise to fame for the two weeks that Barbados is in competition and they are quickly forgotten when the competition ends. I believe that there should never be a case where someone has represented their country at the highest level, especially for an extended period but then struggle to put food on their table for their family. It is a great injustice and too often I see this scenario played out before me,” Craigwell said.
She added: “Whenever I am in a position to assist an athlete and this is not specific to netball but any athlete in any discipline, I go the extra mile to help. I urge you Corporate Barbados to do the same.”
Division One League champions St. Barnabas Netball Club stood out on the night having also captured the junior league and knockout first place trophies. Guardian Group Pride of Villa led by Barbados’ most decorated netballer Latonia Blackman won the seniors knockout competition and came second in the league.
The President’s Award went to Carlos Lovell who was described by Craigwell as a dedicated individual who was the first to arrive and last person to leave the netball stadium ensuring that the facility was in order for competition.
Kenmore Bynoe, long-standing president of the Barbados Volleyball Association and photojournalist was the featured speaker. During his address, he said that while Barbados’ senior netballers were envied for travelling and competing in countries that only the rich could afford, more could be done for the development of the sport.
On a night when the Under-16 team, reigning champions of the 2019 Jean Pierre Regional Tournament were recognised, Bynoe said there were other issues that plagued local netball, in particular, the butting of heads between the BNA and Barbados Association of Netball Umpires. He added that this really did not help with the development of the sport.
Bynoe, therefore, encouraged those in the fraternity to be agents of change in order to put netball in a more positive light for 2020 and beyond.
“Netball continues to provide a setting where young girls, many of whom are poor and from depressed areas, experience tutoring from role models who show them the path towards becoming decent members of our society. Similarly, your national players are the envy of other sports and even business executives where the Bajan Gems compete against the best in the world in countries which only the rich can afford to visit.
“However, more can be achieved and better can be done. But, more will not be done, and more will not be achieved merely by the actions of the BNA’s executives or your coaches. Every member of the netball fraternity has a role to play in raising the profile of your sport.
“Start by showing such fans the better side of netball. Display your greatest skills and expose the teachings of your coaches to make the umpires and their whistles mere formalities. Appreciate and enhance the work of your BNA and BANU executives. Provide better narratives for the media, to guarantee the successful pursuit of sponsors,” he said.
On the BNA calendar this year, the Under-16s will travel in March to defend their Jean Pierre Regional title in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Under-21s will also be competing in the Americas Federation Netball Associations Regional World Youth Cup Qualifier scheduled for July in Trinidad and Tobago.
The other league winners from the 2019 season are Newbury All-Stars in division two, Bryden Stokes Netball Club won division three and Spooners Hill Netball Club captured division four. Princess Margaret Emerald Stars came fifth, Police Boys and Girls Club finished sixth and Guardian Group Pride of Villa finished seventh.