Minister with responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley has given her assurance to improve the physical condition of the Leila Robinson Netball Court at the National Arena in Kingston.
“For netball to develop we must ensure that the facility for play meet respectable standard…I will be moving to see how quickly this government can move to assist in improving the condition of this court. You can be reassured that you have my full support in this regard,” she said.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) Divisions “A” and “C” Netball Leagues held on Saturday February 18 at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston.
At the function, Vice President, Group Corporate Communications, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), Sonia Davidson presented a cheque valued at some $4.5 million, up from $4 million last year, to President of the JNA, Marva Bernard. The leagues have been sponsored by the SLV over the past nine years.
Following the ceremony, and a match played between the two teams, Blades ‘A’ and Waulgrovians ‘B’ of Division ‘A’, Minister Neita-Headley led by the General Manager of Independence Park Limited and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), Major Desmon Brown, and officials of the JNA and the toured the outdoor netball court to get a firsthand look at the facility.
Minister Neita-Headley said that Government was committed to the development of netball so that “our girls and young women can benefit from their participation in the game."
Additionally, she said, the administration will be making every effort to ensure that the sports become a major income earner for those involved.
“Training and certifying of international standards of umpires, expanding entry into the field of sports medicine, manufacturing of sporting goods, establishing high quality training bases. These are all under-utilised economic opportunities that we will focus on over the next several months,” she added.
Addressing the large gathering of players from the two teams, the Minister lauded the consistent high performance of Jamaican netballers. She noted that it pointed to the tremendous talent of the players, whom, she said, continue to compete and to do well against super powers like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“You are now ranked 4th in the world and since 1963 you have never failed to rank in the top five in International tournaments. You have made Jamaica very proud,” she said, while praising the Sunshine girls.
The Minister congratulated Supreme Ventures Limited, the major sponsor of the sport for their dedication and effort in moving netball in Jamaica to a higher level.
“Your decision to expand the sport to include Division “A” four years ago is a testament to your commitment to the development of netball in Jamaica,” she added.
She also commended the coaches who have dedicated their time and hard work to towards the preparation of the players for regional and international competitions over the years. In addition, she lauded the members of the JNA, particularly President of the JNA. “Marva Bernard I salute you as you continue to do a yeoman’s job in honouring and honing and nurturing the talents of these young players,” she added.
As the country celebrates 50 years of political independence, Minister Neita-Headley said Jamaica has a lot to be proud of as a nation. “We are at a pivotal time in our country’s history and what we do now will really determine what the next 50 years of our journey will be,” she added.
In an interview with JIS News, Major Brown welcomed the announcement by the Minister, noting that the court was often used by players and students of all educational institutions, including churches. He noted that the flooring of the court was too smooth and has started to crack in some areas. “When it rains it’s a hazard, it really needs resurfacing,” he said, adding that work was done on the stands some two years ago to improve their safety.
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO