I have long held the belief that international sport should be the best of ours against the best of yours. Modern eligibility rules have made a mockery of my hope as national teams, in a fervent desire to win-at-all-costs, select athletes to national sides who have very little knowledge of, or loyalty to, their new country. Development of any sport by a nation demands that the natives of that country who live in and play the game in the land, are given opportunities to represent their homeland and learn (and develop) the skill and nous of playing and performing at the elite level where international sport is supposed to be played. Countries, like Jamaica who select foreigners with what are really tenuous ties to their new home, may have initial success. But over time, as the desire to maximise earnings trump the joy of national representation and the excuses for not being available for games and practices become thick and fast it eventually forces the country to come to grips with the stark reality that “development begins at home”. The Jamaica Football Federation seems to have realised (for the first time, at last) that development of football begins with giving locals the opportunity of national representation. STRANGE OFFER LEARNING PHASE The new selection criteria for the senior side will see us losing some matches, but with time and patience, better must come. Similarly, with administration and coaching, once the sport has moved past the learning phase, local expertise must be given a chance. In netball, our Sunshine Girls have proven time after time that the level of skill and talent available locally is among the best in the world, yet in international competition, they remain sometimes third, most times fourth. Foreign expertise has failed us. Local expertise has been kept out of the loop by the misguided belief that a man will coach the Sunshine Girls when a woman coaches the Reggae Boyz. Thankfully, we have gone past that unfortunate philosophy, and a local coach (Ms Reynolds) recently took a team to England and defeated them in a ‘Test’ series. Inexplicably, the successful local coach promptly resigned on returning home, leaving frustrated fans to have all kinds of speculation as to why. But the good news was that local expertise that was always available proved that the job can be done. So the search for a replacement began. One successful local coach, whose upward climb had been stymied by a lack of coaching credentials, went to Australia, one of the two top netball nations in the world, and obtained a Level 3 certificate. Armed with this piece of paper and an impressive rÈsumÈ of coaching experience, she applied for the vacant post. She was one of three, (eventually reduced to two by the technical team assessing the applicants) who were interviewed for the job. One was an Englishwoman (of Jamaican parentage), who holds a Level 2 coaching certificate from the United Kingdom, who in world netball terms are “sometimes fourth, most times third”, the other, our own Connie Francis, with a Level 3 coaching certificate from Australia. “The board, after deliberating, concluded that both candidates had strengths and weaknesses and recommended that both work as co-coaches for a period of 4-6 weeks with a view to making a final decision at the send of that period.” Yes, you read right, the previous sentence is a direct quote from the board. Our own Connie, should work alongside her rival for the job, for six weeks, presumably helping her rival look good while our Sunshine Girls are preparing for international competition. When Ms Connie Francis declined this strange offer, board member and media relations officer Wayne Lewis, in a style obviously learnt from studying Kelly Ann Conway, came out swinging against the statements emanating from a very disappointed coach Francis. Connie Francis will continue to be a successful coach, somewhere, she is frankly too good to be kept away from coaching jobs that may become vacant, and Jamaican netball fans will sigh and support our new coach in the desperate hope that a top two finish in international competition will materialise. Till then, my advice to local coaches is to continue improving your craft and upgrading your resume, but more importantly … develop a foreign accent when applying for local jobs.
Print Friendly Version 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee Des Moines, Iowa – Drake Stadium Saturday, April 30, 2016 Drake Individual Men’s Results 100 Meters (Finals) 2. Pierce Vincent, 10.46 400-Meter Hurdles 10. Bas Van Leersum, 52.52 13. Hudson Priebe, 53.04 21. Dominic Lombardi, 54.01 3,000-Meter Steeplechase 1. Robert McCann, 8:49.14 High Jump 21. Ryan Cook, 6-6 Hammer Throw 24. Michael Dolan, 156-11 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee Des Moines, Iowa – Drake Stadium Saturday, April 30, 2016 Drake Individual Women’s Results 1,500 Meters 2. Emma Huston, 4:23.13 11. Taylor Scholl, 4:44.60 4×100-Meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay (Final) 3. Young, Coombe, Hill, Welch, 57.03 4×100-Meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay (Prelims) 2. Young, Coombe, Hill, Welch, 58.02 Sprint Medley Relay 14. Ahmed-Green, Young, Hill, Gann, 4:09.49 Triple Jump 6. Kayla Bell, 39-4.5 8. Taryn Rolle, 38-9.75 DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University’s Robert McCann (Mississauga, Ontario) outlasted a tough field and conditions to become a Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee Champion on Saturday afternoon with an 8:49.14 finish in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.McCann became the first Bulldog to win a Drake Relays title since 2013 and the first to win the steeplechase since 1981.”My freshman year  Brogan Austin won the 5k here and just seeing him win it was pretty inspirational,” McCann said. “Now we’ve got some good momentum, first him and now me. I don’t think Drake champions will be unusual in the future.”McCann pulled away and held his lead down the stretch over Eastern Michigan’s Willy Fink to add to his already impressive season and career as a Bulldog.”I’m trying to keep myself in check right now because it [winning at the Drake Relays] hasn’t sunk in yet and I have a long season ahead,” McCann added. “It is a nice bonus midway through the season, so I’m pretty happy for that.”The Bulldogs almost collected another Relays title later as senior Emma Huston (Des Moines, Iowa) and Wichita State’s Rebekah Topham dueled in the women’s 1,500 meters. Both were former Iowa high school standouts and Topham dove across the line just ahead of Huston to win the event. Topham finished in 4:23.09 followed by Huston in 4:23.13.”I really wanted to win and I really pushed it. It wasn’t quite enough,” Huston said. “It was definitely a confidence booster. I started getting sick on Thursday, so that was kind of a bummer and it shook my confidence a bit, but I was still a good race.”Huston’s performance came just a week after she set the school record in the event.Senior Pierce Vincent (Fayetteville, Georgia) also came up just shy of etching his name on the list of Drake Relays champions with a second-place finish in the men’s 100 meters. Vincent, who posted the fastest time in the qualifying heats finished in 10.46 in the finals just behind UNI’s Brandon Carnes. Carnes won in 10.28.The Bulldogs will resume their season next weekend with the squad split across potentially three meets.