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Players at risk of injury as netball courts need urgent repair

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Netball Court Conditions (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Kimale Evans, the president of the Netball Association, has called on the government to improve facilities for players at Bernard Park.

The Middle School Netball Tournament was the latest event to be held at the venue on Tuesday and Evans feels that player are risking potential injury as they are forced to navigate wide cracks and potholes on the court.

“We’re still using the courts with a bit of a risk because there is no other venue for us to play matches except for the occasional times we have been allowed at Bermuda College,” Evans said.

“Over the years, the pitches at Bernard Park have moved to an irreparable state and I’m extremely worried about safety as one of the new, big holes has opened up just in the past two weeks. We think the cracks are being caused by the roots of the Casuarina trees, which have grown under the courts and forced the Tarmac to come up and start separating.

“We’ve been lucky so far with injuries but we’ve had to clean out loose tarmac and big rocks from holes.”

Netball Court Conditions (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Evans feels that the time is now right for the surface to be ripped up to mirror pitches in other parts of the world.

“If you look around the world, nobody is playing on asphalt any more,” Evans said. “Most tournaments, matches and league are held indoors, albeit in the Caribbean they do stay play outside on a non-slip surface.

“Bernard Park is an awesome space that can definitely be converted to a multi-purpose indoor facility by removing all the trees and taking back the embankment. There is no reason why there could not be a hangar-style covering with snap courts that can be put down during the netball season and taken apart when other sports are in need.”

Improvements cost money and with Bernard Park a government-owned facility, Evans is reliant on funds being released by the ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport, which has recently announced a five-year sports policy with the improvement of facilities a central tenet and is now overseen by minister Owen Darell.

“We have been to the government and every sports minister for the past few years, pleading with them that Bernard Park is the home of netball and we would like to have some place to play without the risk of harm,” Evans said.

“I understand that it would cost a lot of money and that has never really been provided for women’s sport. I know that football and cricket have received a lot of money for different projects and we don’t have any funds at our disposal.

“We have spoken to Mr Darrell and been in discussions with them but when it comes to our annual meeting, we speak to the state of the courts and hope that we are pushing them on their side to get this done as a capital project, which would require major funding to get it back up to par. There are some fixes that can be done, but we’ve done those before and it doesn’t accomplish anything.”

Netball Court Conditions (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Despite potentially productive meetings with minister Darrell, Evans is far from convinced that her efforts will be rewarded.

“I don’t have any confidence that anything will change,” Evans said.

“Youth and Sport has been amazing at what they have been able to do within their means at Bernard Park in making sure the grass is cut, the trees were cut back and making sure that the lights at the facility were changed.

“It just feels as if our hands are tied. While we can go out and try to get a little sponsorship, the property belongs to government.”

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Published November 24, 2022 at 11:49 am (Updated November 24, 2022 at 11:49 am)

Players at risk of injury as netball courts need urgent repair

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