A bittersweet moment
LIVERPOOL, England — Jamaica’s Molly Rhone says she is certain that the leadership of the International Netball Federation (INF) will be in safe hands when she leaves the post of president.
Rhone, at the helm of the world netball organisation since 2003, will step away on Sunday, coinciding with the final day of action at the 2019 Netball World Cup.
Liz Nicholl, who served as chief executive for England Netball and most previously the government-run UK Sport, is set to replace her.
“I am extremely confident that we’ve got the right person,” Rhone said regarding her successor.
“When you’re leaving you want the trajectory to go upwards, you don’t want it to remain or go down. She’s operated in netball at a very high level. She played, she was CEO, and administratively she’s also very skilled because she managed one of the biggest companies in the UK, which is UK Sport.”
During an interview with the Jamaica Observer last week, Nicholl spoke of the admiration she has for Rhone — someone she competed against as a player during the 1975 World Cup.
Rhone said the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve known her for a long time and UK Sport is one of the greater funding agencies that we have, so even before she was CEO the first piece of sponsorship that I got [as president of INF] was from UK Sport. She’s a really good person, she’s really qualified and she knows netball,” said the former Netball Jamaica boss.
Rhone, who says she remains committed to impacting lives through netball, noted that leaving the post has brought mixed emotions.
“[I am] not sure what I will do but I would want to continue using sport, and in particular netball, to empower young girls and women,” he said.
“This is a bittersweet moment. It is a little sad because I’ve kind of led this organisation for the past 16 years and I was actually the vice-president before. You’re going to be leaving the people you’ve worked with and a lot of the new countries you’ve brought on, so from that standpoint you’re a little sad.
“But it’s certainly a time for celebration because I’m just proud of where netball has reached — from where I took it to where it is today,” she said during a sit-down interview on Tuesday.
Due to illness, Rhone was unable to attend a function held last week Thursday to honour her time as INF president.
“It’s great that people recognise what I’ve done. I heard all the good wishes, so obviously I’ve made an impact on the sport, internationally. That is something I can be proud of, and I think I’m leaving a legacy, something that can be built on, which is very important. You want people to understand that there is a foundation there upon which they can build,” she said.
Still recovering, but now able to see some games at the tournament after missing the opening days, Rhone said it was hard not being able to embrace the celebratory send-off in person.
“That was very sad, but I couldn’t do Congress either, which was my last Congress. I kind of ran out of the board meeting — the one day I had the board meeting I was so ill. I was in bed for the next four days. I really felt badly about it because there were people who flew in [for the function]. People had come to say ‘bye bye’ in a nice way, so that made me a little sad. I was so ill and then I was still shedding a few tears because I couldn’t be there to celebrate with everybody, but I hear they had a great time. I think they taped it, so I’m going to get a video of it,” she said.
Another send-off for Rhone has since been scheduled for tomorrow.