Netball is imploding
JAMAICA’S MOST successful team sport, netball, seems to be imploding and sliding steadily down a deep, dark abyss. The writing has been on the wall for a few years now, but with the advent of a new administration, headed by Dr Paula Daley-Morris, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
The recent verbal fracas involving Daley-Morris and star player Romelda Aiken is symptomatic of the factious and divisive atmosphere that has permeated the core of the local fraternity in recent times. The image of the sport is taking a beating as things have never been as unsettled and as fractious as they now appear to be.
The issues and challenges facing netball are by no means exclusive to this sport, infighting, disagreements, challenges and personality clashes are hardly exclusive to netball either. This is all part and parcel of nuances of sports politics.
With all her vast experience garnered on the fringes of netball leadership over the years, Dr Daley-Morris is still new to the intricacies of the presidency and what it takes to survive and succeed in leadership at this level. She is literally learning on the job. My information is that she is perceived as not the most charismatic leader who operates with a touch of arrogance. These are by no means the worst characteristics of a leader and these rough times are providing a good test of the mettle of Dr Daley-Morris.
She obviously needs to make a concerted effort to improve her people skills. I was alarmed to hear madam president state emphatically that she was unable to speak to her star goal-shooter directly and had to do so by way of a third party. She also admitted that in seeking audience with the other big star of the team Jhaneile Fowler-Reid, seventeen unanswered telephone calls were made, as the stars are simply not taking her calls, a charge by the way, that the players later refuted. That level of pettiness is untenable and must be addressed going forward by no less a person than the leader.
There are several theories as to why so much animosity exists within the relatively small netball fraternity, but regardless of the nature of the individual and personal disagreements and the likes and dislikes, it is the responsibility of leadership to tackle and fix these problems. After all, a fight between the president of the association and the star players is a fight the president cannot win, especially if the performance of the team continues to decline so rapidly.
My advice to Dr Paula DaleyMorris is that she stay the course and to what she has to do to ensure that netball comes out the winner. Netball, which has long enjoyed the status of Jamaica’s most successful team sport, is going through a rough patch. Finishing fifth of six teams in the recent Fast5 Netball World Series followed by a war of words between the netball Jamaica leadership and our most high-profile star is not helping the cause.
The fans of netball are obviously disgruntled, the sponsors are keeping their distance, and the players seem angry and undecided the state of the local game is in crisis. Dr Paula Daley-Morris is the captain of the netball ship, and in a time of crisis, the captain’s competence will come under the most pressure and scrutiny. Dr Daley-Morris needs to step up and step up now, take the high ground mend the bridges, and establish working lines of communication between herself and the key stakeholders in the fraternity. If and when that is achieved, things can only get easier and better from there.