Lee pushing our ladies indoors

In many countries, netball is often played indoors. Cayman is slated to join that group sooner rather than later.

Technical director for Cayman netball Gillian Lee is pushing for local competition to make a permanent shift away from the Truman Bodden Sports Complex netball courts. The Australian states Cayman can keep up with the global standard.

“All international tournaments are indoors so the more experience players can get, the better,” Lee said. “The game can be played much faster when indoors, so the experience is invaluable. It creates a much better atmosphere for supporters and players.”

Lee was instrumental in giving Cayman its first major taste of indoor netball this month. The Cayman Islands Netball Association staged the finals for the 2012 open league at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre for the first time. The matches were well-attended and play was noticeably more up-tempo.

Like most things, a shift indoors will hinge heavily on finances. Camana Bay charges about $75 an hour to rent out the centre. Sporting groups, like the Cayman Islands Basketball Association, have received a small discount but still pay hundreds to host a week of matches there.

Other indoor options are not free and include the University College of the Cayman Islands and the First Baptist Church multipurpose hall.

Lee states the decision to go indoors for the finals was a thought-out process.

“I organised it but it was a committee question, whether we could play the games inside anywhere. I had already been searching myself for indoor venues in Cayman. I had a meeting with Camana Bay and it rolled on from then.

“It went fantastically, great atmosphere, great spectator noise, no mosquitos. Great response from everyone I’ve spoken to and I’ve received a number of e-mails of congratulations.”

It will be interesting to see how the netball association allocates funds for such a move. According to the 2011-2012 purchase agreement between Cabinet and the association, government budgeted $77,393 as a grant to netball. The purchase agreement indicates a percentage of that money was put towards hiring a technical director and national coach, a role being filled by Lee. She is on a initial two-year contract with a salary of about $50,000.

Outside of the finances, an indoor setting for netball seems welcomed by the players. All Stars netball club president Lyneth Monteith states it could raise the sport’s profile in Cayman.

“Playing the finals indoors elevated the sport,” Monteith said. “The teams played in accommodations akin to top international championships and I believe the players rose to the occasion. That is the way of the future but we should play outdoors as well.

“We live in the Caribbean. Teams will likely have some practices and game times outdoors, however leagues should be played indoors as much as possible. International tournaments are always played indoors and teams from the Cayman Islands have always been at a disadvantage due to a lack of practice on an indoor court.

“Potential sponsors of leagues and players are encouraged to join the association in improving the game and skill of the players. Our new technical director will bring a lot to the game and it can only improve from this point.”

Playing indoors will be good preparation for an upcoming international tournament. Cayman is slated to send at least one national junior team to the seventh World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on 22-31 August, 2013.

This month, Monteith would see her All Stars A squad defeat Roma A 39-28 for the open league crown. The offence was solid behind Goal Shooter Nicola Williams, Goal Attack Stacy Reid-Satahoo, Wing Attack Carolyn Vivian and Centre Katherine Maw. Defensively, All Stars limited chances for Roma’s star shooters, Kay Copeland and Nicola Pringle, with the trio of Goal Keeper Teneisha Wilson, Goal Defence Cynthia Collington and Wing Defence Kimesha Walters.

In the process, All Stars ended Roma’s run of titles as they were the two-time defending champions. Both of those championships came at All Stars’ expense, who have been around over 10 years and won multiple titles in the past.

The other champion crowned at Camana Bay was the Flames Strikers, sponsored by Tortuga. The consolation winners defeated Unity A 40-25 for their first netball title in their inaugural season.

All Stars were sponsored this year by Central Cooling, whose owner Julian Wood states he supports a shift indoors.

“I have never actually watched netball however, after seeing the final, I found it to be very a competitive sport,” Wood said. “Fitness is a key factor in it. In the women’s league, which players are mostly in their mid 20s-30s, I think it’s a good way to keep in shape.

“I believe that netball needs to be played more indoors other than just the finals, as it gives the game more attractiveness. The players and supporters would definitely be more motivated to come out to watch the games because weather and mosquitoes will not be a problem.”