Bermuda remembers Sylvia Eastley
Sylvia Eastley was the “wind beneath the wings” that helped Bermuda netball to take flight.
The late netball coach, umpire, mentor and assessor, who recently passed away in her native England, played an integral role in the development of the sport in Bermuda which continues to reap the benefits of her enormous contribution and sacrifice.
“Sylvia Eastley came to Bermuda with her team, Bedfordshire, to play against the first Bermuda national team after the netball association was formed in the early 1970s,” Debra Saltus, the former Bermuda Netball Association president, recalled.
“Sylvia’s contribution to the BNA was really the formation of our umpiring/coaching programme that got us to where we are today. So for the start of netball in Bermuda, that was an important part for us in that she helped us.
“Listening to her funeral service [online] they sang the song Wind Beneath My Wings, and she was definitely the wind beneath Bermuda’s wings because she helped us to fly in terms of the umpiring and coaching programme here.”
In honour of Eastley’s contribution, a netball tournament is played for a showpiece which she donated to the BNA during one of her many visits to Bermuda.
“At one point she gave us a plaque and we were trying to figure out what to do with it, and so the decision was made to open our season every year with the Sylvia Eastley Tournament,” Saltus said.
“They even mentioned at her service how she came to Bermuda and how Bermuda recognises her at the beginning of the season with a tournament in her name, which touched me a great deal.”
Saltus added: “Everybody knew that Bermuda was the place that she loved to come and help with the netball.
“She made several visits to Bermuda and became friends with quite a few people here; not just in netball, but also outside of netball.”
Eastley was a true ambassador of the sport as she devoted an enormous amount of time and energy not only to its development as a whole but inspiring and encouraging countless individuals in their involvement.
She had an immense input into and impact on Bedfordshire county and club netball in coaching and officiating, and also served as the County Netball Association chairwoman.
Eastley was involved both at national and international levels and also served as an international umpire.
Her exceptional services to the sport led to England Netball awarding her an honorary life membership.
“She is definitely a miss, I know, in the UK because in my travels as an umpire internationally, whenever I travelled mention the name Sylvia Eastley and people were really familiar with it,” Saltus added. “So she made a great contribution, not just here in Bermuda but obviously in the UK as well.”
“She is definitely going to be missed because she had a passion for the sport and just kept going until she couldn’t go any more.
“She put her all in all into what she did. She reached out and helped out other people, and we were the recipients of that help, which was great.”
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