Net­ball is im­plod­ing

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

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.

SEV­ERAL THE­O­RIES

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.

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