Two of Jamaica’s sporting organizations, the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA), and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), will be arranging elections for new leaders very shortly. The president of the JNA, Paula Daley-Morris has opted not to seek re-election. This has resulted in (to me) a surprising amount of vitriol surrounding her term of office from parish leaders who seem to have suddenly found well-hidden courage, to let the local fans realize that the tenure of Ms. Morris was not solely to be judged on what happened with the sunshine Girls, but what occurred with the grass-roots aspect of local netball. The DEVELOPMENT of the sport.
The elections now due have also come under fire as we, the public (and fans) now realize that the new President MUST come from the present set of directors who have been members of the executive for at least 2 continuous years. That effectively eliminates any new blood to the leadership tier of netball, thus ensuring that the “old” guard can and will maintain a strangle hold on the sport. Based on the complaints from the present parish leaders, the new election will ensure that the same-old policies will dog the organization, effectively continuing to stifle the sport. It is hoped that the challenge to this peculiar stipulation that the next president of netball MUST come from the present leadership is designed to maintain the status quo, effectively stifling progress that has been launched by some members.
In football, a similar scenario confronts local football fans. The parish leaders decide who will lead football and the development of the sport for the next four (4) years. The incumbent president has already publicly declared that he rewarded his supporters with trips (and per diem?) to the recent Women’s World Cup thus ensuring his continuing leadership of local football. As predicted, a last minute effort from previous president, Tony James, to try to force an “election” with an effort to get nomination from at least 3 parish leaders, petered out like a damp squid, as the Presidents “pardees” circled the wagon around their benefactor. So, Jamaica will be faced with another 4 years of a continuation of what has prevailed in the previous 2 plus years of the present Presidents’ leadership: Fiasco after fiasco and a leaking and wasting of much needed financial support from a Federation with absolutely no clue about fund-raising. This cash strapped group of men have tried valiantly to alienate a financial donor (Cedella Marley) and contrived to deny under 15 footballers much needed international competition at a Concacaf tournament in Florida, and interspersed their incompetence by forcing the organizers to fine the JFF a whopping 4 million Jamaican dollars for their inability to organize and attend the tournament despite more than adequate notice.
This litany of woes will continue, simply because local fans will have to hug up the next administration, decided by parish leaders who have failed to develop football in their own jurisdictions, and at the same time trying every trick in the book to stifle the progress of the one parish association (KSAFA) that develops their football to the extent that their teams dominate all the competitions put on by the Federation. So, are we “dead in the water” or can we-the-people possibly in conjunction a Minster of Sport (whose heart seems to be in the right place and who has shown in the past that she recognizes the poor quality of football leadership by having to intervene on more than one occasion to bring a resolution to a possible disaster) force a change in how this popular and important sport is managed? Football deserves better, netball deserves better, indeed local sports deserve better.
It is high time that the leadership of local sporting organizations are paid a salary commensurate with the importance of their position and a written mandate of performance requirements, justifying removal if and when these reasonable goals are not met during or at the end of their term of office. These leaders MUST be made to understand that failure to perform has consequences, and not even odd and peculiar methods of leadership selection can save one from the consequences of failure. Over to you Minister Grange.