There seems little that has as yet been done to analyse the cause for the decline in the sport’s popularity. In the absence of any such analysis the leadership may be clutching at straws in its attempt to redress the worsening situation.
In today’s Vincentian society there is still a place for sport in the lives of our people, especially our youth. But there are many distractions and the netball fraternity may do well to assess the impact of the distractions on the game itself.
In some countries the sport of netball continues to be increasing in popularity and we need to get a grip on what are the contributing factors. We need to establish what changes they made that facilitated increased participation and ongoing popularity among spectators.
During the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year netball played to packed houses on each occasion, regardless of the teams involved. There was always enthusiasm among the spectators, encouraging each team to give of its best.
In the Caribbean Jamaica has so reorganized itself that it among the best in the world in the sport. The performance of the Under-16
team in Trinidad and Tobago recently reflects the extent to which the Jamaicans have structured themselves to move to higher levels of proficiency in the game. The Jamaicans do not seem inclined to allow the game to fall off in popularity in terms of its attraction to new people as well as to spectators.
Course of action
It does seem appropriate at this juncture for the local netball fraternity to engage in a retreat of some sort. This exercise must focus attention on all aspects of the game in St Vincent and the Grenadines in an atmosphere of honesty.
The Netball Association needs to address the issue of its leadership structure and operations. Is it the most ideal or would some changes be beneficial and if so in what direction the structure needs to go.
It is important to address the matter of membership of the Association. The organization must determine whether it wishes to continue with the present approach that witnesses a number of teams emerge and disappear with the same speed, or move in the direction of establishing clubs, perhaps even encouraging some of the current teams to merge with existing clubs that are involved in other sports.
The very structure of the competitions of the Association needs to be address to ensure that it adopts the most suitable to our situation. What competitions are held, the types of competitions and the spread of these competitions need to be addressed with some dispatch.
The Association may do well to refocus on the matter of coaching, not just of national teams but of all teams involved in the sport. There must be a concerted effort made to develop coaches for the sport and they must be accessible to the schools, the cradle of the sport.
The schools competition needs to have the full involvement of the Association since it is responsible for the national development of the sport.
The Association needs to focus attention on the coverage the sport receives and determine whether it is adequate or totally unacceptable.
Some investigative work must be undertaken to analyse the factors that make for Jamaica’s success as well as the success of England, New Zealand and Australia. We need to determine whether there are things happening there that are useful for our forward movement.
There must be a professional approach to netball in St Vincent and the Grenadines and that must address issues of marketing and the technical development of the sport in the country.
The netball fraternity cannot simply continue with business as usual when the facts reveal significant decline.
There has to be a sense of urgency on the part of the Association to regain its position at the top of sporting bodies here.