NETBALL JAMAICA (NJ) received a massive boost for its Centre Pass programme after Australian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Bruce Lendon, handed over a cheque of AUD20,000 (or J$1.9 million) to assist with covering the expenses of high-performance coach Rob Wright.
The Australia-born Wright is set to arrive in the island in the coming week, with the aim of developing local coaches and umpires across the island over the course of six months.
Lendon told The Sunday Gleaner the Australian High Commission was very happy to be partnering with NJ to further the development of the sport in Jamaica.
“Jamaica and Australia are both leaders in women’s netball around the world and they both have fabulous reputations,” said Lendon during Friday’s press conference at the Jamaica Olympic Association office in Kingston.
“We want to share some of the knowledge that we have with Netball Jamaica about how to build the sport further and have the greatest skills from the sport of the best people in the sport,” he said
“We see this as a benefit, not just for the sport itself, but for the two countries where we can improve the understanding of different parts of the world and give people an opportunity to learn about different parts of the world in Australia and Jamaica,” Lendon said.
Simone Forbes, first vice president of NJ, said the organisation was excited about the partnership because of the assistance it will provide the grassroots level.
“Centre Pass is a technical advancement programme, which means we are not just looking at the playing of the game, but the officiating, the coaching and the umpiring,” said Forbes, a former captain of the Sunshine Girls.
“This part that the Australian commission is supporting, is the growth path which looks at the people and the development of the coaches from a grassroots level and the umpiring,” she said.
Forbes emphasises that Wright, who has over two decades of coaching experience, will be working with the coaches and umpires across the island in an effort to improve their skills and knowledge of the game.
“Currently, we haven’t had a Jamaican with the highest award for a number of years and so this Centre Pass programme is looking at pathways for these coaches and bringing in the people to help the coaches to develop and so we need more Jamaica award coaches,” she said.
“We need more A coaches and so he is going to help us to develop some of the coaching programmes that we don’t have and help us to make professional coaching more widespread across Jamaica,” Forbes said.
She noted that Wright, an assistant coach with Northern Mystics in the ANZ Championship in New Zealand, had been volunteering his services virtually to the national senior team since early January.