Sport

No 'Sunshine' in stormy netball dispute

...NJ to press on without Pitterson-Nattie

Thursday, March 13, 2014    

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NETBALL Jamaica, the organisation charged with promoting and managing the sport of netball in Jamaica, has explained that the recent separation from former head coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie was not planned or deliberate.

According to Marva Bernard, president of Netball Jamaica, "We reached a stage in our negotiations where we just had to agree to disagree. We were operating from a point of principle and no middle ground could be found."

"We still have the utmost respect for coach Pitterson-Nattie, but we have to move on in the interest of netball and to allow for the preparation of the team for the Commonwealth Games," Bernard added.

Controversy surfaced recently after Netball Jamaica advised that it had not been able to reach agreement with Pitterson-Nattie on the signing of a new employment contract that would take her through to the World Championships of 2015.

Coach Pitterson-Nattie in recent media interviews said that the issue had to do with reimbursement for pay lost from her full-time job when she had to travel with the team to tournaments.

She also said that she felt the approach of the board of Netball Jamaica was "high handed" as she had offered several possible solutions to the impasse and the response was always that the issue was "non-negotiable". She also suggested that contract negotiations were terminated because there was never an intention to have her continue as the national coach.

Netball Jamaica in its response said that the negotiations became an issue, not about the salary being offered by the organisation, but a "benefit accrual" based on remuneration from another company and in principle it was felt that a bad precedent would be set if this was written into their contract as requested by Pitterson-Nattie.

They also highlighted the sequence of events, stating that the same issue first surfaced in 2012 and again in 2013 and now in 2014, and the board was of the opinion that Pitterson-Nattie was contracted to train and travel with the senior team and so was paid a yearly salary, disbursed monthly.

In addition, the coach received a per diem allowance when travelling overseas, as well as paid vacation leave each year.

The organisation came to the conclusion that Pitterson-Nattie's "solutions" were untenable. One being a request, that as part of her contract it should be stated that she not be mandated to travel with the team, unless she got the requisite time off from her regular job, and was reimbursed based on those salary rates.

The other suggestion from the coach was that she would seek -- with approval of Netball Jamaica -- sponsorship to cover her lost vacation pay from her regular employer.

The organisation reported being uncomfortable with that idea unless she was going to do this on a personal basis as her way would serve only to confuse sponsors.

According to Netball Jamaica, the negotiations broke done when Pitterson-Nattie said she would not be signing the contract if it did not address the issue of lost wages, and also advised that she would not be working until the contract was signed, and as such was not present for the team's first training session on March 3, 2014.

As a result of the separation of Pitterson-Nattie and Netball Jamaica, assistant coach Minnette Reynolds is currently working with the team alongside training and fitness guru Roy Thomas, who has come on board to work with the senior team.

It is also expected that the coaching capabilities will be strengthened when former Australian national coach Jill McIntosh arrives in April on a six-month contract to work with the national coaches and top club coaches islandwide, including the newly appointed coaches of the recently launched Berger Elite League.

Jill McIntosh will also be accompanying the Sunshine Girls to the Commonwealth Games as technical director.

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