For T&T netball to get back among the top teams in the world, a key development that must take place is the establishment of a professional league.
This was the view of T&T Netball Association president, Dr Patricia Butcher while speaking on the “Calypso Girls” return from the 14th Netball World Cup which ended in Sydney, Australia on Sunday with the Joelisa Cooper led T&T placing ninth of 16 teams.
Australia emerged the champion, beating New Zealand in the final.
Butcher, who is also the president of the Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) admitted that after seeing the standard of facilities in Australia and the type of professionalism they approached the sport with, it was not hard to see why they were the best in the world.
She said, “We at home here have a lot to do before we can get back to that level, but key elements to helping us getting there is the support both from Government and Corporate T&T. There is an abundance of young netball talent here in T&T, but we need that support and we also need to look at having a professional netball league where the players are paid fulltime.”
With regards to the team’s placing, Butcher said it was a very long journey, but a very successful journey from her own perspective.
“To me ninth is a good number because we went there knowing we were in a very difficult pool with the top two ranked teams in the world in Australia and New Zealand along with Barbados.
“After the first round which we ended 1-2 losing to Australia and New Zealand, there was a second round of two pools of eight.
“The top two teams in each group played in the first pool of eight and then we were in the second pool of eight for places ninth through 16.”
However, Butcher pointed out that had the format of the tournament been a little different, T&T had a great chance of placing higher.
“At the tournament, there was a Netball Congress held and it was felt by most of the teams present that the draw made for the competition was not fair to all the nations.
“We all spoke and the International Netball Federation Congress heard us loudly and as a member of the board, I will do my best to ensure that this format does not happen again.” Commenting on the T&T team Butcher said “Our Netball was up there before in the top rankings in the world and to her the team can get back up there, but we don’t even have a proper court, because for me the Jean Pierre Complex as it is, we can forget it.
“At Mayaro there is a good facility but we cannot be trekking up there all the time to be able to practice in facilities of international standards.”
The T&TNA boss said the players she have seen from Australia, New Zealand and England play at the professional level or at the semi-professional level.
“The fact is that they are paid and play netball for a living while my players have regular day jobs and have to come to train after work in their spare times. They don’t get stipends, no proper nutrition, and not even a mental coach and other things that international teams have that we don’t have.
“So there performance when I look at it in relation to what is happening on the international scene we have to do a lot better for our athletes than we are doing today.”
“And so as I am now on the INF board as a Director for the Americas Region and I am going to be pushing so that our entire region, inclusive of the Caribbean, America, Canada, and Argentina, we all get up there with the rest of them because Africa is coming up.”
Butcher said, “The Africa nations like Zambia, Fiji, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda, they are all playing netball and they are getting the kind of resources because they have a regional development manager who is doing work for them and getting sponsors and respective Governments to give them money to develop their netball.
“I also saw on the television there the Government is Australia has taken a decision to put a $100 million (Australian) towards the development of netball in their school system, so they are starting at the lowest level coming up and of course they are supporting their national team 100 per cent.
“So am pleading to the Minister of Sport and all who have the powers to make the decisions please do so.
“We have talented girls in this country so let us develop our talent and make this little dot on the map called T&T a consistent team on the world stage again.”