Netball Jamaica achieving goals for growth through BEL

Saturday, February 02, 2019

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Netball Jamaica's President, Dr Paula Daley-Morris says the level of competitiveness in the Berger Elite League (BEL) is feeding its desired goal for the sport's growth locally and internationally.

The fifth instalment of Netball Jamaica's semi-professional competition concluded recently with an enthralling best-of-three finals series between Manchester Spurs, who emerged first-time winners; and two-time champions Kingston Hummingbirds. All three finals were closely contested, with the Hummingbirds winning Game One 59-52, before Manchester Spurs rallied to claim Game Two 57-53 and Game Three 71-65, in overtime, following a 54-all tie at the end of regulation time.

“It (finals) shows that the league is maturing, so I'm very happy for how it went. It proves over and over again that when you use a lottery system to assign players to teams that you really get the best competition ever,” said Daley-Morris.

“It's amazing to see how the ladies lift their standard; despite the fact that we have eight professional players who would have been playing in this league who are elsewhere playing and yet still the crop that has remained is just as good and is really playing well,” she continued.

Included in that eight who play professionally in top leagues Down Under and England are Sunshine Girls twin-tower shooters Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken, Shameera Sterling, Staci-Ann Facey and Malysha Kelly.

Several were spectators of the BEL League and others who are based here numbered among the lot of stars and rising stars, who engaged in generally high-quality battles.

“Our netball is at a level where on any given day any team can win and so the game has developed significantly in terms of its competitiveness,” Daley-Morris analysed. “In terms of how we develop the game further, to be consistently winners, this is the way to go. So investing in a league like this is important so that we can be competitive on the world stage. The biggest part of our development is our ability to fund leagues like this.

“This (league) is also a feeding pot, so the Berger Elite League allows us to find new talent and when we find new talent it also allows us to develop them competitively. So because of how the teams are set up, the balance is there ... when the teams are that balanced the competitive levels are going to be high and that's what we're after and we're happy to achieve that,” she added.

“I'm asking Jamaica, look at this league, look at the excitement that it brought to all of us and tell me, can you help us to make this into a professional league. We'd be very happy to have you join us in this effort,” Daley-Morris urged.

Another aspect she found pleasing was the way the teams responded to a high-scoring challenge to win $60,000 for surpassing 60 points in the semi-finals and finals. This was done in recognition and celebration of Netball Jamaica's 60th anniversary.

“This is what we need because when we go on the world stage to perform we need to score high in order to stay in the game with Australia, New Zealand, England and whomever we come up against. It's very easy to stay in the game in the preliminary round, but when we get to the finals and we have nail-biting encounters we want to be able to keep our scores high and to be constantly challenging for the win,” said Daley-Morris.

“It really shows promise for the World Championship, seeing how those ladies were able to push the envelope. The shooting was consistent, the centre court was great and I want to single out one player, Khadija Williams who was awesome and we tend not to see the centre court, but she was outstanding. I think she delivered the win for the Spurs.”

Daley-Morris went on to congratulate the new champions.

She said: “I want to congratulate the winners, Manchester Spurs. We've a new winner this year. Kingston Hummingbirds won two years … and they played well and I want to congratulate them also for reaching the finals. But the Spurs really deserve the 'big-up' today, so I'm saying congratulations to them.”

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