Bell tolls for Caribbean netball coaches

Bajan Gems head coach, Sandra Bruce-Small (C), hugs national captain Damisha Croney (L) and manager Lynette Holder following a tournament.
Photo by George Alleyne

Three down, is the toll for a miserable showing of regional teams at the netball World Cup that has led to sacking of the Jamaica coaching panel and the Barbados coach.

News broke Friday that Bajan Coach Sandra Bruce-Small has resigned from her post, and it was revealed that contracts for the Jamaican coach, Marvette Anderson, and her assistant Winston Nevers, will not be renewed.

These coaching changes come against the backdrop of the region winning no medals as Jamaica, ranked third in the world, managed only fifth position in the tournament; Trinidad and Tobago Calypso Girls 9th; and the Bajan Gems 12th out of 16 competing teams.

Jamaica’s overall world ranking dropped to 4th coming out of the competition, Trinidad dropped one place to 11th and Barbados also slid one place to 13th.

The Jamaican Sunshine Girls, whose highest showing in past World Cup championships was 4th, were the most disappointing as outings leading up to the world tournament showed them to be on form and a medal was expected of them.

Replacements for the Jamaican coaching panel are expected to be announced soon as the Sunshine Girls will have to gather in training camp shortly in preparation for a Quad Series in England where they will take on the hosts along with New Zealand and South Africa.

Barbadians expected more of their Gems because of the emphasis placed on the game on the island.

The Nation newspaper that broke the story quoted an unnamed source indicating that the Gems’ coach resignation was the best way out.

“If Bruce had not resigned, she would have been given her walking papers. The team is going nowhere, and Bruce didn’t appear to have the answers to take the team forward.

“Netball is in a mess and needs a shake-up. Bruce could not continue but the sport has much bigger problems than the coach. The domestic league is weak, so the national team can’t be strong. The BNA is in crisis and an in-house review has to be done.

“It is not always the coach’s fault but the coach has to take the blame. Sandra used to work hard but probably could have connected more [with the players],” the source said.

The Calypso Girls, the only regional team to have won the World Cup, 1979, appear to be content with their coach Wesley Gomes, who is said to be working on a rebuilding programme for the team.

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