Western Grandstand ; Let’s fix the netball impasse quickly
While not wishing to take sides in the impasse between new netball coach Jermaine Allison-McCracken and the three national players she suspended, I am not happy with the way things have been playing out in the public domain as that could be a recipe for more problems.
Based on some of the things I have read, it would appear that the three players - Nicole Dixon, Shanice Beckford, and Khadijah Williams, were suspended because they were either not willing or not able to execute aspects of the coach's training regimen.
While I believe that the players have an obligation to subscribe to all reasonable requests made by the coach if they are truly desirous of being part of the national programme, I also believe that the coach needs to be sensitive to the concerns of the players if she hopes to develop a good working relationship.
READY TO PROVE HERSELF
In listening to media interviews given by Allison-McCracken, one gets the impression that she is all business and that her primary goal is to prove herself deserving of being entrusted with the role of guiding Jamaica's netball, which makes her quite intolerant of any player who might be hesitant to fall in line.
However, as long-serving members of national netball, it would be difficult to question the commitment of Dixon, Beckford, and Williams, who, I am sure want the best for Jamaica. In fact, I believe that they would be quite happy to return to the team if a way could be found to quickly smoothen out their relationship with the coach.
This is where Netball Jamaica comes in. Instead of joining the public discourse and publicly declaring blanket support for the coach without giving the players a chance to be heard at a disciplinary hearing, the governing body might be setting itself up for a stinging backlash if when the matter is dissected, the concerns of the players are found to be legitimate.
When a coach from a different background is brought into a foreign scenario, allowance should be made for issues such as culture clashes, new approaches, a new style, and different expectations.
For Netball Jamaica to insinuate that the coach is free to do as she pleases, possibly to include locking out the local media from training sessions, apparently because of the negative impact generated by the suspension of the players, the organisation is sending a very bad signal.
I believe that while we had the enviable distinction of qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup under the Brazilian RenÈ Simies, we probably would have acquitted ourselves even better if the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) had handled the various spats between the no-nonsense Simies and our temperamental stars, Walter 'Blacker' Boyd and Onandi Lowe.
It is my hope that Netball Jamaica will not allow itself to lose control of a situation that is manageable. The players and the coach should be allowed to sit down and discuss the various issues with a view to fixing the contentious issues. In my opinion, nothing beats a negotiated settlement.
My hope is that no effort will be spared to fix the problem because Jamaica's netball is a well-respected force on the global stage and our focus should be on getting better, not doing stupid things to wreck what we have now. I am, therefore, urging that all reasonable steps be taken to get coach Allison-McCracken and the suspended players on the same page.