I listen and read with amazement today how an association such as Netball Gibraltar is the target of any type of criticism fro the Government for trying to defend what they have worked so hard to achieve for so many years. Gibraltar was due to host two, not one, but two, international Netball events next year, with the Congress also scheduled to take place in Gibraltar the following year, and the possibility of a senior championship well on the cards. Yet today, the fact is that netball faces the embarrassing change in circumstances where once held in high esteem as one of only a handful of countries capable of hosting international events could not lose that status altogether.
Netball Gibraltar this week made the following statement “The Gibraltar Netball Association would like to express their disappointment in not having been consulted for the new Europa Sports Centre.
It is understood that the Gibraltar Rugby Football Union, the Gibraltar Cricket Association, the Gibraltar Darts Association and the Gibraltar Squash Association have all been consulted for the new Europa Sports Facility and that the design specifications of the complex will abide be international requirements for their sport. Unfortunate…ly the new facility does not satisfy the International Netball Federation requirements for the hosting of international events and as a result of the release of the Victoria Hall to the Gibraltar Football Association the Netball Association no longer has the required two halls within the same facility to host an International event.
As an Association we are all for progress and new enhanced facilities for the community are greatly welcomed however after perusing all the documentation available to us we are of the current opinion that whereas the facilities for other sports associations are being enhanced and future needs will be met, ours have been significantly reduced.
We are hoping we will have an opportunity to once again raise our concerns with the pertinent Authority for a favourable solution,plz help us by sharing and supporting us.”
The Government of Gibraltar for its part has since arranged to meet them and at the same time regrets that the Association should have chosen to run, what it terms, its negative campaign, in the press and social media. However, this is quite rich of the Government to say considering that as far back as when the first proposals for the new sports infrastructure was announced the association is understood to have been seeking clarification left right and centre over the facilities and the impact to the international events it was hosting. This is way back in in March, and yet its August and the association has for the first time come out making any sort of public comment. This is even two months after they first learnt that Netball Europe had considered withdrawing them from the list to host the Under 21 Championships in Gibraltar next summer.
This again months after they had first been made aware that there was no guarantee that the Victoria Stadium Sports hall was going to be available. Something which everyone who has been involved in the hosting of international netball events in Gibraltar, one such party being the GSLA, should have been aware was and is a requirement under INF regulations to host international competitions (as the warm-up court must be next to the main playing court). Not only was the guarantee for October not forthcoming, but the availability for May was also very much in doubt. This meant that the U18 championships were, and is, still very much at risk.
It is therefore quite impressive that the same Government who Netball have been seeking to find a solution for already scheduled events, and even though up to just Tuesday this week the same association refused to make any public comment, is now being criticized for doing so when they find themselves with their backs against the wall and ready to loss the ground they have worked so hard to gain through their well organized, determined work throughout the past years.
Coresportgib doesn’t just support Netball Gibraltar in its endeavours, but it also calls on the Government to look carefully at what its doing in sport and who they are favouring. Whilst we understand that not everyone can be catered for, I’m sure that the simple solution of finding an alternative means of providing a warm-up pitch (covered if necessary) alongside the present Tercentennary Sports Hall is not to far-fetched an option considering the millions that are spent in other installations, such as the creation of a complete international stage for international artists just outside the very back doors of the same hall. The Government should consider carefully that the creation of a sports tourism industry as it hopes to create is not created by ensuring two major international events are relocated to another country purely because nobody had the foresight to question whether the activities of one sport would influence the activities of another as is the case between netball and football, as ultimately the Victoria Sports Hall is not guaranteed by the GFA who will by then hold ownership of the hall and its future. The Government was already very willing to sacrifice international and European football for the sake of keeping MTV-Calling, at the time still called the GMF (no matter how many times I’m told that the decisions didn’t come about until after MTV-Calling had been signed up, something which timelines show could never have been the case unless the Government knew that they had contracted MTV-Calling as far back as last June). It should not now be seen adding another sport to the chain of effects, purely because it needs to please the ones they first sacrificed. The solutions are to find a solution not place obstacles, and if its an adequate warm-up pitch that is required, be it at a cost, the cost of Gibraltar’s reputation should outweigh the physical costs itself, especially if it is to make a success of its new sports infrastructure. Commonsense dictates that this should be the case. Lets show some instead of criticizing an association who have found themselves against the wall and for once making their voice heard, even if they have been very silent throughout.