Caribbean Netball faces backlash

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

Following a disappointing showing of the top three Caribbean netball teams at World Cup 2019, there is media speculation that jobs of Barbados and Jamaica head coaches are on the chopping block, while Trinidad is seeking more exposure for its Calypso Girls.

Ranked world number three, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls led the 10th placed Trinidadians and the Bajan Gems at 12 into the Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, England, carrying high hopes for the region, but when the 10-day tournament ended on July 21, none of them had laid hands on the gold, silver or bronze medal at stake among the 16 teams.

Consistent with the leadership position held as they entered the tournament, the Sunshine Girls exited as regional leaders with fifth position.

The Calypso Girls were ninth and the Gems brought up the rear at 12th.

Since the International Netball Federation World Cup had got to its final stages and it became obvious that the Caribbean was not going to medal, regional media houses began speculating that heads will roll.

No more was this so than in Jamaica, whose highest past placing was 4th in 1971, and recent outings had that island’s fans expecting a medal this year.

The Gleaner newspaper last week made a strong claim to inside knowledge that the head coach will soon be history.

“Despite denials from Netball Jamaica (NJ), The Gleaner has been reliably informed that national senior netball team head coach Marvette Anderson will be sacked from her post this month, after the Sunshine Girls’ poor performance at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, last month,” the newspaper contended, adding that she will be replaced by her assistant Winston Nevers.

During the latter stages of the competition the newspaper had reported NJ President, Dr. Paula Daley-Morris stating that her organisation will be making several changes to the coaching staff after the championships.

“We were equal to the task, we fell asleep on the job and the results are what they are … Lots of changes will be made; we cannot go forward with the way things are.”

Discussion on head-rolling for the Barbados top job was more speculative with the Nation newspaper stating that the future of coach Sandra Bruce-Small may be determined this month.

Responding to queries on what is in store for Bruce-Small, the Barbados Netball Association President, Nisha Craigwell, reportedly told the newspaper, “we have a board meeting scheduled for later in the month and those matters will be discussed then.”

The Calypso Girls, the only regional team to have won the World Cup, 1979, received less media recrimination for their poor returns.

Newsday newspaper reported coach Wesley Gomes hoping that more of his players get opportunities to play in competitive leagues to improve as a team. “Because of how our structure is in the Caribbean, the only way we could do it is probably get the players in bigger leagues and develop them from there.”

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