Jamaica shore up netball base
MARVA Bernard, president of Netball Jamaica, has outlined her vision for shaping the Sunshine Girls to become the top netball squad in the world.
To emerge from their current third-to-fourth-place ranking, she needs a more vibrant infrastructure for developing talented young players. The implications of that thinking were evident at the Leila Robinson Courts in Kingston, for the Dress Parade and initial matches of the Netball Jamaica/JNBS Sunshine Open League club competition early in January.
"The Sunshine Open League is doing very well," the president said. She also explained that, "Club competition is important to any sporting programme, as the players hone their skills by playing in the League."
Her vision for the national team requires that the top women's sport in Jamaica increase both in vitality and support, at the club base. And, to meet her 2015 time horizon for this to occur, new and better approaches are required.
The Netball Jamaica president was thus not just being polite when she thanked Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) for its financial support over the last 21 years.
A total of 73 teams are participating in this year's competition, which is an increase by several clubs over 2013, and well above the 34 teams in the 2003 competition. And those teams are vying for valuable prizes and scholarship funding.
Jacqueline Robotham, JNBS business relationship and sales advisor, welcomed the newest clubs entering the competition this year. She said, "We are pleased to see that this competition has grown by leaps and bounds."
Robotham also commended the Netball Jamaica president for her decision to embark on 'Netball pon di Kanha,' a recent community initiative, slated to take the national team, the Sunshine Girls, into communities across the island. She said, "We are optimistic that this will heighten and stimulate further community interest in this sport."
"All of these achievements are positive outcomes, and augur well for the national team," Robotham said. "I believe that Jamaica will improve its ranking in international netball."
Bernard declared that success is emerging as the world's top netball team by 2015 involves much more than preparing a team to be on the podium. Reaching out to the supporters is also an integral requirement.
"The club system is the point where budding national players get a chance to play competitive netball outside of school," she told the large and enthusiastic audience at the Leila Robinson Courts.