THE President of the Caribbean’s premiere netball association has taken up a similar role back home. Rufina Paul has been elected as the new President for Netball Saint Lucia.
A former President, she is no stranger to the job and was elected unopposed at the St. Lucia National Netball Association (SLNNA) annual general meeting on Wednesday 12th September.
Immediate past President Liota Charlemagne-Mason, who a few months ago was appointed Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, did not seek re-election.
Charlemagne-Mason congratulated Paul on her selection as President, promised she will remain involved as the outgoing president.
Paul, who is also President of the Caribbean Netball Association, will lead a seven women’s team for the period 2018 to 2020.
The other members of the executive are Sanya Antoine -1st Vice President, Gemma Henry-Lionel 2nd Vice President, Veronica Rock – Secretary, Pauline Eliodore-Matty -Treasurer, RommelaHunte-Prospere Deputy Secretary/Treasurer and Matheline Walter as Public Relations Officer.
Director of Sports, Patrick Mathurin, presided over the election.
It is still not clear as to who will take up the various in-house responsibilities to see the sport of netball move to a new level under Paul’s watch.
A number of questions have been asked in the past pertaining to team selection, umpiring, coaching and demarcation and the increase in membership (teams).
Saint Lucia once ranked 12th on the IFNA list, last major tournament attended was the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 and with the lark of financial support like any other sporting organization waiting in line for assistance from the National Lotteries Authority has seen them fall victim to the new ranking system of the IFNA. This new system requires teams to play a number of tournaments/series against stronger teams, in order to remain in the IFNA rankings.
There has been a serious decline in getting persons to play sports and netball is no exception, and this should be Rufina Paul and her executive major objectives and the decline in the number of teams participating at the national level is cause for concern.
With Paul wearing two hats at once, will there be capable individuals to take charge of these areas?
Effort to reach Paul has been futile as she is currently out of state, but one would hope, the national executive will meet soon upon her return to discuss plans for the future, as netball is the largest women’s sport in Saint Lucia.
Looking from the outside, for this entire executive, netball had been their passion and by all indications, they live, eat and breathe netball.
Based on the International Netball Federation (IFNA) current world ranking points up to June 30th, Saint Lucia remains unranked along with countries like Argentina, Cayman Islands, Maldives and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; while Australia, England, New Zealand, Jamaica and South Africa round off the top five playing nations; Trinidad and Tobago at 10th, Barbados 12th and Grenada 23rd.
On Centre Court for 2018, Saint Lucia placed 2nd in the Jean Pierre Under -16 tournament and further went on to win the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank/Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Under-23 championship.
The VOICE spoke to Youth and Sports Director in the Department of Youth and Sports, Patrick Mathurin, as to the expectations for netball on the island. This is what he had to say.
“The newly elected executive will need to put in place a five year strategic plan for the sport. Swimming recently unveiled their five year plan at the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee, Head Quarters; but before that we had table tennis and football”.
“In terms of attracting players, the SLNNA will need to start at the Grassroots level, have a look at the bigger picture if they want to move from point A to point B”.
“On the administration aspect of things, people need to know their role on an executive; you cannot leave your responsibilities for someone else to do; it doesn’t work that way and based on what I am seeing the Department of Youth and Sports will have to take the lead in organizing an administrative workshop for all national sports federation, this initiative can be done in collaboration with the SLOC”.