By Neto Baptiste
A period of dormancy in netball starting from the early 2000s and lasting for almost a decade, has left the sport struggling to find its footing even in the face of stance efforts to revive the once popular past time.
This is the belief of former president and player, Yvette Francis, who said the sport fell victim to leaders who put their personal needs and that of their teams or clubs ahead of the needs of the association.
“It killed the sport and I am going to say it here and I know I am going to get a lot of flack for it but whenever you have persons at the top who are there for the name or for the betterment off their team when they make decisions on those two levels, it kills the sport,” she said.
“You have to go in, in management, with an open mind and with fair play, it has to be fair grounds for everybody. You make decisions not for yourself or for the betterment of your team or the betterment of your club, you make decisions for the sport on a whole and that is what happened with netball,” she added.
The former Caribbean Netball Association (CNA) president is, however, confident the sport in now moving in the right direction under the guidance of former national goal shoot, Karen Joseph.
“We have a very good president who has a passion for the game, who has excellent leadership qualities and who works not for herself but for the game itself and that is very important in any sporting organisation, you can’t put yourself before the game and Karen Joseph is focused and she is going to bring netball right back to where it was in its glory days. I have a lot of faith in her,” Francis said.
A stalwart of the game, Francis heralded the contributions of anther giant in the game, Sybil Walling, who aid describes as an excellent leader and one for other to duplicate.
“She [Walling] was a very good president and like good presidents she loved the sport and it was not about Sybil Walling, it was about the players and netball and she took the team to Singapore and all over because when I gave up netball in 76 she became president again and she put her all and all into netball so she is one of the stalwarts of netball,” she said.
Competition at the association level, returned in 2018 under Joseph’s presidency. The last International Netball Federation (INF) rankings published July 1, saw Antigua and Barbuda move from 42nd in the world to 31st.
The twin-island state is now eight in the Caribbean with Jamaica sitting in the top position.