THE new head of the Caribbean Netball Association is St. Lucia’s Rufina Paul who was elected at the annual general meeting during the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball Tournament held in Barbados recently. Paul will serve for two years 2016 – 2018.
The veteran sports administrator, Paul replaces Cathy Haperhall from Barbados who did not stand for re-election after serving in that role for 20 successive years.
Paul will have alongside her on the executive, Barbados Netball Association (BNA) president NishaCraigwell as first vice-president, Dr Maxine Parris-Aaron of Guyana as the second vice-president and Debbie-Ann Francois of Trinidad and Tobago as the second vice-president.
The VOICE spoke to the new President last week. This is how the interview went:
VOICE:How does it feel to be elected to head a regional sports organization?
PAUL: Actually Cathy Haperhall decided she wasn’t going back anymore – she’s been there for 20 years. She has been active for the last 44 years in the administration of Caribbean Netball. So she’s an institution by herself in the sport. But she’s decided that’s it for her. And so, I thought about it and decided to take up the challenge.
VOICE:Are you the first time St. Lucian to serve as President?
Paul: I do not know, but I would think so.
VOICE: What made you believe you were the suitable candidate for the job?
PAUL: Well I think in terms of the approaches that were made and the confidence that persons felt that I could do it. And I thought about it. St. Vincent and the Grenadines nominated me and Barbados seconded the motion.
VOICE: You’re coming in at a time when netball seems to be at an all-time low in the Caribbean. For example Trinidad and Tobago lost every single match in this year’s Jean Pierre, does that pose a problem for the new executive?
Paul: In terms of sports you know it’s cyclical. The Trinidad and Tobago senior team is in the top 10 in World. But they just need to grow. Based upon what we saw in Barbados, it just reinforces the point that we need to redevelop a pathway for our young people right through our senior level, so there’s always consistency in terms of replacement.
She said, So I know it’s a challenge coming in when something is down. I like challenges; it’s been my life really and truly. I must say the responses from the countries have been very positive. We are hopeful that we will definitely help to steer the ship to have a pathway where our young people can move through to under – 19 through to under – 23 in OECS. Let’s see what can happen in terms of bringing on board other persons. Have a senior level tournament. And also our seniors like myself as well. That’s a tall order; that’s ambitious, but let’s see how we can begin the process.
VOICE: As president what’s your number one priority?
Paul: The number one priority is collaboration in terms of making sure the resources we have in the region are used wisely. Because we have a lot of expertise in the region, but we need to work. And obviously between the Americas Federation and ourselves we need to collaborate in using what we have in a strategic, effective way.
Voice: Give us a brief history of your netball exploits?
Paul: I began to play netball when I was a little girl in Soufriere. When I went into university I played for my hall. I played for both Cave Hill campus and St. Augustine. I played one or two inter-campus games. That’s when I was at school. Before that I played for St. Joseph’s Convent, then I went off to study. I really came back in when my children were playing netball – to see them and observe and I was roped in. I took on the challenge. Since 2002 up to now, I’ve been in the administration of netball, but I’ve always played netball.
VOICE:How may terms did you serve as president of the St.Lucia Netball Association?
Paul: Elected in 2002 up until 2005/2006. Came back in 2009 up until 2014.
VOICE: Netball is played within the Commonwealth; will you as president see the sport being played at the Olympics?
Paul: Caribbean Netball is a subset of the Americas Federation. While we probably can agitate, we don’t have a voice internationally.
VOICE: Will you push for the Olympics?
Paul: Yes, we can see what we can do. While we can help it from the base.
VOICE: Final words?
Paul: Pray for us, that’s all I can say.