BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 21st June 2019)– “We are not saying that there is no fault on St.Kitts-Nevis Netball Association but proper consultation, times and deadline period to adapt to the inaugural change was not given so [countries] like St.Kitts and Nevis we were not able to adapt in a timely manner in order for us to participate in the tournament.”
This was a summed up explanation given by association President Dion French at a press conference held on Tuesday 18th June at the Pam Tyson Netball Complex in Warner Park , providing details as to why the islands of the Federation have been unable to participate individually and as a national squad in the inaugural OECS/ECCB International Netball Series which climaxes tomorrow (Saturday) in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The St.Kitts and Nevis Netball Association, this year will not be fielding a team to participate in this event in this inaugural league. This is due to several matters that arose during the process and inception and the change of the league. Previously, the league was known as the OECS/ECCB Under 23 Netball Tournament. A series of events transpired that has led the St.Kitts and Nevis Netball Association not to field the team this year,” he explained.
Last year’s tournament was held in St.Kitts and the host country took second place.
French continued: “This year the tournament has changed and during the process of the change, many countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis were unable to attend because as I stated it’s an international series and it is under the INF which is the International Netball Federation.”
“One of the requirement was that each team or country that is participating should be an INF member. Another incident which occurred was that St.Kitts would normally participate as St.Kitts and Nevis participate as Nevis. We saw that last year in the tournament. One of the conditions this year was that we have to come as St.Kitts and Nevis and not individual countries,” he added.
According to him, “most countries were unaware that the tournament had been rebranded and just in the last week, we were aware that there was no age limit for the tournament because St. Kitts was practicing a youth 23 squad and last week Thursday, we were aware that it is not a youth 23 tournament but an open tournament. Several matter bedsides that arose whereas many countries expressed their concern with how the tournament was changed. There was no consultation, there was no time given and so several countries were at a disadvantage.”
French outlined that whereas last year’s tournament had seven teams participating there are only five teams participating this time around.
He made it clear that relative to St.Kitts-Nevis, there was no issue with support from government, no financial challenges nor lack of support from the St.Kitts-Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC) in this matter.
Asked by this media house about the preparation for the tournament, he informed that: “We knew that the tournament was coming up…Our preparations started since January. We were preparing an under 23 team. Let us just imagine that we are preparing an under 23 team and a week before our young ladies are scheduled to leave we were told that it is an open.”
He said that a meeting was held in an attempt to change the composition of the team.
“We met on the 1st of June when we got the information and we still had intention of travelling so we called in some of our players who are over the age of 23 and we know that they could make the team. That was our next step.”
Commenting on the emotional state of the netballers, he highlighted: “The state of the players as expected, they are disappointed because here is it that they’ve been practicing four four, five months and to be told that they will not be participating.”
Vice President of the St.Kitts Netball Association Hilarene Blanchette thanked all who came onboard to assist the team during its preparation stage.
“I know the girls were disappointed but after they realized that the St.Kitts Netball Association could not do anything on its own, they all understood, and I would like to say thanks to those who in any way sponsored us…We had a good tournament this year and the girls were eager to go and display what they were trained for over the past month. They were really hyped…they were geared up this year to take the first place trophy but never mind, we will come back next year; the tournament will be in Antigua and everything will be in order and so I know we are going out there for the championship next year.”
More details to be provided in a follow-up report pertaining to the combination of athletes from both St.Kitts and Nevis as a national squad.
President of the St.Kitts-Nevis Netball Association Dion French (Right) and Vice President of the St.Kitts Netball Association Hilarene Blanchette at this week’s press conference (Spokesman Snap)