BERNARD’S CONTRIBUTION Jamaica, under the leadership skills of Marva Bernard, has managed to get their own ‘home’ as well as numerous corporate bodies putting up their cash and kind to support netball. Money is still short, thus arranging and travelling to other ranked nations to play ‘Tests’ happens rarely, and is due to a great extent on the generosity of the other nations. Faced with that reality, one would think that Netball Jamaica would be very interested in keeping squad members playing top local netball regularly, and would be actively encouraging these squad members to play week after week. No matter what spin is put on the reason for the rule, the bald fact is that the rule makes no sense and has got to be rescinded. The fans of Jamaica’s netball, and the public in general, can force the removal of this rule … if they want. The IAAF’s woes continue with major sponsor Adidas withdrawing from their contractual support of the beleaguered organisation, mainly because of the continuing revelations regarding corruption and illegal activity of the principals of the organisation. The Dick Pound-led investigation is not over, not by a long shot. Keep watching this space. The past president of Netball Jamaica has received numerous awards and praise for her leadership skills while being a ten-year president of the sport of netball in Jamaica. These plaudits re her leadership skills are well deserved. Her successor, Dr Paula Daley Morris, has promised a change in how the game in administered. I was hoping that I would have seen a change in the policy, particularly one that would have seen the nation have a realistic chance of changing our position in world netball, from ‘sometimes third, most times fourth’ to finalists and eventual champions. Alas and alack, that wish of us, (Jamaica) moving on up looks as distant as it always was. Mr Netball himself, Winston Nevers, has gone public with his concerns regarding a ‘rule’ that seems designed to stop teams that he coaches from dominating local netball. The thinking behind the implementation of this rule seems to be “stop Nevers from winning everything, so that we can justify keeping his skills away from the national programme”. A local radio programme recently highlighted the rule. As I understand it, teams playing in the national league can only have three members of the national squad playing for any one team during the competition. If a national representative (who happens to play for a team coached by Mr Nevers) does not want to play for a rival team, then that player is refused permission to play netball locally! Huh? So instead of allowing players selected to the national squad to play as much netball as possible, Netball Jamaica is happy with these players watching the game week after week! That thought is frightening, if the main aim of the rule is to sideline Nevers. As I understand sports of any kind, the participants need regular playing time in competition against their peers and against competition that is superior. Australia has just completed a three ‘Test’ clean sweep against England, as both sides continue engaging in ‘Test’ conditions against world-ranked opponents.
Veteran athlete Ricardo Cunningham is hoping that his own self-drive and self-belief will help him to make the best of what is left of his time on the track. He has his sights set on a successful year in either the 800 metres or 400m hurdles this year. Thirty-six-year-old Cunningham is hoping that he will be able to make one last hurrah and qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. “I have been encouraged over the years to try the 400m hurdles. My personal best over the 400m is 46.20 seconds, and the 800m has given me a lot of strength, and this event (400m hurdles) is a combination of speed and strength. It’s just for me to work on putting both speed and strength together in order to improve over the hurdles,” he told The Gleaner. The former Racers Track Club athlete, now at Cameron Blazers, finished top of the field at the recent MVP Track and Field Classic. It was his second competitive 400m hurdles, and the many-time national 800m champion clocked 50.28 seconds, the third-fastest time of the night. Ansert Whyte (49.39) of Racers Track Club and his teammate, Javarn Gallimore (50.09), finished ahead of Cunningham. Cunningham explained that the aim is to “do whatever it takes to get in the top three at trials”. Despite being in what many would consider the twilight of an athlete’s career, Cunningham is aiming to outperform his younger rivals at the National Senior Championships in June. No doubt, it will be a much sterner test than his 800m pet event where he has a personal best of 1:47.14 minutes. “It’s a new event; it’s going OK. It requires a lot of technique, but I am enjoying it thus far. The focus hasn’t been shifted from the 800m as I am still preparing for both events. They go hand in hand.”