Netball NZ’s refusal to let Jamaica take the Taini Jamison trophy home is another PR failure for an organisation that really doesn’t need one right now, writes Jamie Wall.
Jhaniele Fowler Reid of Jamaica celebrates with the Taini Jamison Trophy after winning the final against the Silver Ferns. Photo: PhotoSport
You have to hand it Netball NZ. Just when it seemed like they couldn’t possibly do anything else wrong, this week saw the news that they don’t know how a trophy works.
The word ‘trophy’ literally means a ‘tangible reminder of a significant achievement’. That’s why you have trophy presentations after someone wins something, so they can lift it up, celebrate with it, and drink out of it. Then you get to take it home and put it in a cabinet for everyone to see.
It’s that last bit that Netball NZ has trouble understanding, because Jamaica left New Zealand without a reasonably important piece of baggage at the start of this month: the Taini Jamison Trophy. If you’ve forgotten, and you’d be forgiven for doing so given the complete downward spiral that the Silver Ferns have gone through since, that’s the trophy that the Sunshine Girls won before the Commonwealth Games.
They did so by becoming the first Jamaican team to record successive wins against New Zealand ever and the first to get a win in New Zealand. A remarkable effort by an outstanding group of athletes, so you’d think they’d be able to get something to remind them of the achievement. But not according to some bureaucratic nonsense from Netball NZ head of events, Kate Agnew:
“Each series is a discrete competition. It is not a defendable trophy. Each series stands alone and each series is recorded on the trophy. Jamaica won the series. They don’t hold the trophy. Each series is independent of all the others so you can win the trophy but it doesn’t mean you are the holder.”
Of course, this explanation fails a simple examination on the basis of linguistics, first and foremost. If it’s not ‘defendable’ it’s not a trophy. If you can’t ‘win’ it, it’s not one either. So, by all means, call it the Taini Jamison Series to honour the former coach of the Silver Ferns. But don’t chuck in a piece of silverware that you can’t actually take with you.
Especially considering that it’s standard practice to have replicas of the most important trophies in world sport. It’s not even a secret either, World Rugby routinely publicise the fact that they have at least two versions of the William Webb Ellis trophy to use for promotional purposes – as well as one that the winners get to keep.
The fact that it was brought to light by the Jamaicans makes Netball NZ look foolish, because they clearly didn’t tell anyone that it wasn’t going anywhere regardless of the result. The response about ‘discrete competition’ doesn’t really do much to convince anyone that this is nothing more than another PR failure for an organisation that really doesn’t need one right now.
However, it may shine some light on the sort of decision-making processes that have landed Netball NZ in the mess that it’s in. If they can’t even get the logistics of letting someone win a trophy right, then it goes a long way to explaining why the ANZ Championship got disbanded. Also how Janine Southby remains as coach, despite seemingly not having the coaching credentials or staff around her to take a high school side. And why Laura Langman decided that playing pro in Australia was a better option than representing her country under the current regime.
Right now, Netball NZ have comfortably overtaken NZ Football as the leading contender for most inept sporting body in the country. But while they haven’t picked any ineligible players like the soccer boys did, it’s because they adhered to the draconian and nonsensical rules that they made up around that themselves.
You get the feeling that there’s a lot more to come in the fallout of the Commonwealth Games netball debacle. But, for now, Netball NZ could at least do themselves a favour and quietly courier the Taini Jamison Trophy to Kingston, Jamaica.
Because handing over a trophy is what you do when you get beaten.
Netball New Zealand keeping hold of Taini Jamison Trophy despite series defeat
Netball New Zealand is keeping hold of the Taini Jamison Trophy despite the fact the Silver Ferns lost the most recent series decider to Jamaica.
NNZ’s head of events Kate Agnew fronted with some answers after Netball Jamaica president Paula Daley-Morris criticised the decision not to allow the Sunshine Girls take the silverware home, even though they won the final 59-53.
The Taini Jamison Trophy was introduced in 2008 and is contested when any national side other than Australia plays the Silver Ferns in New Zealand.
Agnew said it was simply a physical symbol which represented the history of the series, and they could not afford to let it go offshore.
“Each series is a discrete competition. It is not a defendable trophy. Each series stands alone and each series is recorded on the trophy. Jamaica won the series. They don’t hold the trophy. Each series is independent on all the others so you can win the trophy but it doesn’t mean you are the holder,” Agnew said.
“Because of the value and preciousness of the trophy we couldn’t afford to have it go offshore either. For insurance purposes and its ongoing value in the history of New Zealand, we can’t really have it go offshore.”
The Silver Ferns lost twice to Jamaica during the series, going down by six goals in the decider. New Zealand then lost to Jamaica again in the bronze medal match at the Commonwealth Games.
Daley-Morris told Jamaican media that the players were upset by the fact they could not take the trophy home as it was a milestone victory.
“At the end of the series for the Taini Jamison Trophy, we were anticipating receiving the trophy, but we were told that it has never been won by any other national team and that it couldn’t leave the country,” Daley-Morris said.
“The team was disappointed in that we didn’t get medals or replicas, and we asked for even a picture of the trophy itself or even something symbolic to mark the occasion, and we haven’t received that either.”
Plus Jamaica didn’t exactly leave empty handed either. They were presented with a framed motif and NNZ plans to send a personalised plaque to recognise their historic achievement next week. Their name has been inscribed on the trophy which will remain on display at their headquarters.
Agnew admitted the communication could have been clearer between the organisations.
“I think we’ve got to absolutely take responsibility about making sure we are even more clearer about the status of the physical trophy itself going forward,” she said.
Netball NZ would consider making a replica trophy for future series, Agnew said.
Tournament winners do not always receive an original trophy. Replica trophies are often given to be taken home. World Rugby hands out replicas of the Webb Ellis Cup to every Rugby World Cup winner and they are not all the same size, while the Ashes cricket urn is kept at the Lord’s museum where it attracts thousands of visitors each year.