A six-team professional netball league set to start next January is very much on the cards of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) as one of the five pillars to build the successful transformation of the sport in Jamaica.
Herman Athias, in charge of JNA business development, explained that what is called the Super League will be transformed into the professional league.
"One of the areas we are aggressively looking at is the professional league and we are in the process of developing a business plan for that aspect of netball," he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Monday Exchange.
"One of the things we must recognise upfront is that netball is pretty much an entertainment business.
We are competing for the dollars and we have to ensure that the level of professionalism that we have on the court, that is the level of professionalism that we have off the court," he noted.
"Because if you look at other professional sports in Jamaica, success in not necessarily on the field of play. So we are ensuring that the league that we put forward as professionals are on and off the court," he reiterated.
With the JNA looking to have licensing arrangements and alliances with television and cable companies, the focus cannot only be focus in Jamaica, but the wider Caribbean and the Jamaican Diaspora.
Currently, there are approximately 48 clubs participating in the Supreme Venture Limited-sponsored Major and Minor leagues and the plan is to significantly reduce this to six franchise teams, spread across the island and evenly balanced with talent.
"We are going to have to find sources of revenue to capitilise on licensing the game and doing things like building the professionalism of the players so they can attract opportunities globally," Athias pointed out.
For the attraction of the league, the JNA believes what is happening currently with most of the national players on a few teams is not good for the sport and is not pulling spectators to the venues unless it's the semi-finals or final.
"One of the other things that we will have to ensure is that no one team is stacked with all of the top players. We are going to have a draft system, nothing different than what happens in the NBA, and as players become available every year, we go through a drafting process and the drafting process will be driven by how the teams end the season," he noted.
Athias continued: "So the teams at the bottom of the table pretty much will get the first draft and so on."
But to kick things off professionally, he believes the JNA will have to dip into their pockets and fund the first season.
"For starters, we believe that the netball association will have to fund the league for the first year and as we go through that first year, hopefully we will attract enough investors that will support the teams," he noted.
Jamaica currently ranks fourth in the world and Athias believes with this competitive pro league, the players will no doubt improve.
"We believe we can put a product out there that over time becomes profitable and will assist in getting Jamaica to number one and retain it. We will have provided enough games at a very high level which some of the clubs teams are not having right now and hopefully we will provide opportunities for some of these young players," said Athias.
The JNA is also planning to spread its wings to Beach Netball, Mixed Netball and Pickney Netball to attract more spectators and players to the all female sport.
There is a plan to get involved in the communities and for those areas that cannot afford proper playing facilities, a portable one can be arranged.
"One of the issues we have to content with is the number of facilities available to play because the professional league is not about the Kingston league, we have to take it across the country," he emphasised.
"Starting with six teams so we are looking to spread across the country and with the issue of facilities we are looking at, if we can't find facilities where they have good seating arrangements for spectators and have the kind a crowd that will make investment profitable for folks, then it says that we will have to have portable playing surfaces where it is taken in some communities," revealed Athias.