Netball court for Fairbanks inmates

A prison officer’s passion for netball is getting female prisoners at Fairbanks into the sport as part of their rehabilitation process.

On Saturday, members of the All Stars Netball team, female prisoners and prison officers cleared and marked an old existing netball court for the inmates to have their first game.

“This is the first time a netball team will be established at the female prison,” said officer Tashena Parks, who got the ball rolling on the sports activity.

Prisons Custodial Manager Richard Barton said the court had been there for several years, but had never been used for netball, with inmates using it for walking and other recreation.

Officer Parks, also a member of the Cayman’s Women Netball National team, approached Director of Prisons Neil Lavis about giving back to the community by starting a netball team at Fairbanks.

A team of 10 players will be coached by Ms. Parks for future netball events and netball teams from outside prison walls will be invited to play the inmates.

“I hope it really works because I am very enthusiastic and passionate about it,” said Ms. Parks, who has been playing the sport for more than 20 years. “Netball is what steered me to where I am today and it is only fair to give back to the community,” she added.

Nathania Cholette, a prisoner at Fairbanks, said it was a good opportunity for everyone. “I like playing netball because I played it at school,” she said

Despite netball being fairly new to the players at Fairbanks, Ms. Parks and female prisoners are excited about the sport and can’t wait for games to start. “There are 14 ladies at Fairbanks and about 10 are interested in the sport,” she said, expressing the desire to see the sport continue even when she was not around.

“Netball is now an international sports and there are young ladies at Fairbanks, … who to tell, we may find someone there to represent Cayman in the near future,” she said. “Football is played at Northward Prison by the men, so why not netball at Fairbanks? It would be a good boost for the ladies.”
Getting involved in the sport may give the prisoners a new focus and help keep them out of trouble when they get out prison, she said.

Claira Range, prison service deputy director at Fairbanks, said she appreciated the help from everyone involved in getting the court up and running. “We look forward to the ladies utilizing the court and playing their first match,” she said.