AS local athletes eagerly anticipate confirmation on the Ministry of Health’s phased reopening to domestic sport, national sporting organisations (NSOs) are working assiduously to make sure they’re ready to resume training and competition.
One such NSO is the TT Netball Association (TTNA), which is currently searching for full team staff for its Under-16 and first-ever, Under-23 teams.
The association, through its Facebook page on Wednesday, posted that there are vacancies in both teams for a manager, coach, assistant coach, physiotherapist, psychologist, physical trainer and massage therapist. TTNA president Sherry Ann Blackburn said they have and continue to receive multiple applications from people interested in filling the available team staff roles.
However, she confirmed this was the first stage in her executive’s goal towards reviving youth netball in TT. “I’m seeing a good bit of applications being sent in so the response is heartening. These potential national players have started their training under an interim technical staff.
“We had to install these interim positions – manager, coach, assistant coach and trainer – so we could capitalise on time,” said Blackburn.
For the U-16s, a regional tournament is tentatively set for April in Barbados. Additionally, TT’s first-ever U23 team, though not yet selected, anticipate a debut at the Caribbean Association for National Olympic Committees (CANOC) Caribbean Games in May, in Guadeloupe.
Both tourneys remain dependent on global covid19 restrictions.
Blackburn confirmed the TTNA has a Return to Play policy and awaits the health’s ministry’s decision on sport resumption.
Last week, Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said she had put forward a policy to the Ministry of Health to consider a phased reopening to sport, with restrictions.
Blackburn welcomes the possibility but said netball will not immediately resume in full, once given the all-clear.
“We will launch our new season on a phase-by-phase basis and we would not be open for all divisions resuming at the same time. Until it can be properly managed, we will then roll out further things from there,” she said.
In the meantime, screenings for new netballers continue across TT. Blackburn said there was surprisingly a better turnout in Tobago as compared to Trinidad. Vaccination status, she says, remains the decisive factor.
“We had (vaccinations) but at a much lower attendance rate at screenings in Trinidad because, somehow, persons are not fully vaccinated, and only this is required to attend these sessions.
“I urge not only athletes but also administrators, persons who are aspiring to serve these positions on a long-term basis to get vaccinated. Positions on our teams and for staff are only for fully vaccinated persons,” she added.
Although the sport has been dormant since March 2020 because of the pandemic, the TTNA ensured its members participated in virtual courses to bolster their certification, while sporting activity remained at a standstill.
On Sunday, the association hosts an online award ceremony to highlight the achievements of those who took part in such online courses.
“We would have conducted coaching, umpiring and technical officiating courses, and accomplished quite a bit virtually.
“We had persons participate in similar courses at the regional level, virtually, and we want to recognise those persons. Persons also took part in governance courses which were conducted by USA Netball Association,” Blackburn closed.