Netball associations in the Pacific are optimistic about the potential benefits of a new sports administration programme launched by Netball Australia.
The Pacific Women's Sports Administration programme will support the development of netball in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, with a focus on governance, administrative structures, policies, and processes.
The project aims to break down barriers and to create avenues for women in decision-making roles.
The chief executive of Netball Samoa, Rosemarie Esera, said she was confident the programme would encourage longevity and sustainable growth for netball in Samoa.
"What's really critical for sustainability of any association is ensuring that you do have governance as well as the development programme," she said.
"There needs to be the same intensity to ensure that the governance structures is just as well as equipped with resources and skills to ensure that we are working in parallel, in one direction moving forward. Netball Australia have recognised that and we're seeing a lot of injection of funding, support and capacity building in terms of our development programmes."
Programme will enable clinics and skill training
The programme will also empower associations to reach out to netball communities in vulnerable areas with clinics and skill training, she added.
"For our netball community, this programme means longevity for our sports sector and the sustainable growth of our association based on the best practices of good governance and management skills," Esera said.
"For me as CEO, it will empower my existing staff and assist me with getting the right people for new roles through a robust recruitment and selection process. It will also support me with policies and procedures for the office operations to review techniques and ensure they are current and in the context of our environment."
President of Netball Papua New Guinea Ulato Avei said the programme was a positive step towards institutionalising Netball in Papua New Guinea.
"We already have our governance structures in place, we have our board in place, we have our constitution in place, we have policies that are in place. Netball is the biggest female sport in Papua New Guinea yet it does not feature strongly in government and private sectors, hence limited funding," she said.
"We really are very grateful and we think it's a positive step towards trying to get netball institutionalised properly within office, and to focus on our junior development now."
PNG Netball are currently in the process of hiring a new CEO and development manager, however Avei is concerned whether they can support the positions financially long-term.
"We don't have a guaranteed income, we don't have a revenue stream that comes in. Even when the programme ends, how do we sustain it?
"Once the CEO position has been filled, we can have a look at creating a strong revenue stream where sponsorship is coming in annually, rather than on an ad hoc basis, so that we can sustain the operations after the programmes have been completed, so we're going to be working very hard on that."
Netball Australia Executive General Manager of Community Product and Market Development Melonie Lowe said she looked forward to seeing female leadership opportunities expand in the Pacific regions and seeing the Pacific Women's Sports Administration Programme objectives realised.
.@NetballAust has today announced a new partnership to empower women in the Pacific— World Netball (@WorldNetball_) September 13, 2021
They will be continuing to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
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"Our game is about opportunity for growth, and we are excited to be further supporting our partner countries with a programme that will complement the work being done in the PacificAus Sport and Team Up programmes," she said.
"Increasing the number of women in decision-making roles in these Pacific organisations will only strengthen our sport and encourage higher participation in safe, inclusive netball competitions."