Netball U21s, not men – Nevers - Controversy over male team’s participation in Tri-nation series
Former national senior netball team assistant coach, Winston Nevers, is strongly against Netball Jamaica's (NJ) decision to have a select male team compete against the Sunshine Girls and Trinidad and Tobago in their Tri-nation series.
The male team has replaced South Africa, who were originally scheduled to participate in the series. However, the South Africans advised NJ of their unavailability because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Nevers, told STAR Sports that the NJ is making a mistake with this move and, therefore, they should have selected the national Under-21 team instead to compete in the series.
"I think a development Under-21 squad should be selected by Netball Jamaica to play in this series instead of a male team because we don't have a male team playing international games for Jamaica," said Nevers.
"What we should have done is to select 12 players instead of 16 for this series and the other four players, you then use them to make up the Under-21 squad, and this would certainly help with the development of our netball," he said.
"Even if the senior team and Trinidad and Tobago beat up the Under-21 team nothing is wrong with that because they will be gaining a lot of experience which will benefit them in the long run, and this will certainly help with the development of our netball," Nevers said.
The veteran coach, who was an assistant to head coach Marvette Anderson at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, also underscored that the male team poses a COVID-19 health risk to both teams.
"The male is going to come there and then go home to different places, and Jamaica and Trinidad are going to come and play and then they go into a hotel," Nevers said.
"Can you imagine if one of these girls catches COVID. Then we are going to be in trouble because remember that these male players will be taking the buses, taxis and walking up and down on the street and mingling with the public," he said.
However, former Sunshine Girls captain, Simone Forbes, who is also a director at NJ, disagreed with Nevers. According to her, the male team will provide excellent practice for both teams in their build-up to next year's Commonwealth Games.
"I am in agreement with this move by Netball Jamaica," said Forbes. "The Sunshine Girls have not played any major tournaments in almost two years and the team is preparing for the Commonwealth Games which is a couple months away from now, and so with South Africa pulling out, it would have been the closest we'll get before this year end to international netball and some semblance of competitive netball.
"With South Africa pulling out we had to make a decision. For one, what are our immediate objectives, and that is to get high-level netball being played by the Sunshine Girls," Forbes said.
"Now the development squad will not at this time point provide that for the teams. The level they are at is not the level of netball that we want the Sunshine Girls to be playing right now because they haven't played for so long."
However, Forbes said she could not comment on Nevers' COVID-19 concerns surrounding the travel and boarding arrangements for male team during the series.
Meanwhile, veteran local coach and former international netball umpire, Sylvester Campbell, said he understands NJ's decision to engage the male team.
"I think what Netball Jamaica is trying to do is to find a competitive game for the girls to play or to bring something to the series, and that is why they chose the men to play," said Campbell. "The Under-21s wouldn't give them that.
"But yes, we want to build the Under-21 team and expose them. But at the moment with South Africa dropping out they had to find something that is a little more potent and I think that is why they went for the men," Campbell said.