Sport’s future lies in schools, says new netball boss
Tracey Sharreiff is determined to restore local netball to its former glory and she has vowed to leave no stone unturned in her quest to achieve just that.
The mother of two was elected as Bermuda Netball Association’s (BNA) president earlier this year after prevailing over incumbent Debra Saltus by a single vote at the association’s annual general meeting.
Since taking over the reins, the former Pembroke Community Club (PCC) goal defender has implemented a broad mandate that places heavy emphasis in a number of key areas such as youth development.
“Youth development is first on the mandate and our aim is to get netball back in the schools so the school competition can be better, which in turn will improve the level of competition in the domestic leagues,” Sharrieff said.
“Last year I think we only had four youth teams in the junior league and I thought that was pretty pathetic considering the amount of schools we have in Bermuda.”
The BNA’s youth committee is currently “working closely” with primary and high school teachers in a joint endeavour to scout and recruit fresh talent.
“I am very glad teachers have responded in the way they have as they play an important role in the future of netball,” Sharreiff said.
The BNA has also reached out to local charities who can play an equally vital role in recruiting and encouraging positive lifestyles among young women.
“I would like to see Teen Services and other charities that work closely with young ladies, give them the opportunity to get busy playing netball as opposed to getting into trouble,” Sharreiff said. “A lot of young ladies have the energy but are utilising it in negative ways and so we are hoping to encourage them to play netball instead.”
As well as promoting the sport at the grassroot level, the BNA have also launched an ambitious national umpires award course that has attracted as many as 30 participants, including teachers, coaches, players and umpires.
The primary objective of the course is to “qualify” individuals to umpire at both school and domestic league levels.
“This is like a pilot course to give local recognition to umpires and from there they can either travel overseas or do online courses to work their way up,” Sharreiff added.
During her watch the wife of Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert hopes to see more people –become certified umpires and more players involved in a sport that –promotes discipline, self-esteem and –camaraderie.
She also hopes to see Bermuda –involved in as many overseas competitions as possible, with plans already on the table to send a team to the 2013 –Under-21 World Netball Championships in Scotland.
For the past two years Bermuda have dominated the development division at the Jean Pierre Tournament in the Caribbean and it is expected that many of these same players will form the Island’s team for the 2013 Under-21 World Championships in the UK.
Sharreiff admitted that raising funds to send a team to Scotland has been challenging in the current economic climate but remains optimistic her association’s fund raising efforts will not go in vain.
“Our Government grant has been reduced which makes things a bit more difficult, of course,” she said. “But we are determined and I think we can raise enough funds to get 12 girls out of here in 2013.”
If possible, Sharreiff also hopes to see Bermuda represented in other upcoming overseas tournaments in the lead up to the 2013 Under-21 World Championships.