I wish to express my personal opinions and also highlighted to you the comments I have heard from the participants of the netball tournament you organised on 8-9 September 2007.
There are a couple of things I would like to comment during the briefing.
First, the remark from En. Muhamad saying that netball is a sport unique for women. Dear sir, 5 years ago I would agree with you 100% but now, I just found your ignorance in this matter particularly insulting. Men’s netball has been around for years, especially overseas (Australia is a good example) and it is just picking up popularity here in Malaysia for the past 3 or 4 years. The 37 men’s netball teams participating in your tournament this year should have been a good indicator, unless you are too dense to pick that up.
I also found your other remark on the role of men’s netball in the tournament quite condescending. Yes, we participated because we support netball. But we also participated because we want to win. We have trained hard and learned all the rules. We want to show that, like every other sport which used to be gender-specific, netball is also for men. And that we are at par with our female counterpart. Netball, nowadays, is not for women only.
I do hope that you will be more tactful in the future with your statements. People might find them offensive, even though they are well meant. I also hope that you, considering your particular position in this tournament’s organisation, would be more aware of and up-to-date with what is currently happening with the sport.
Second, the head of referees made a statement that, for group matches, the referees will judge accordingly and that for semi-final onwards, they will be more strict and will follow the international rules of netball.
What does that show? To me, it shows that the referees do not have a standard. And since all of them are under the Penang Netball Association, it implies that the association itself is lacking in standard. Isn’t it better if the referees follow the rules to the letter right from the beginning? At the very least, it will save them face. Being called “a stupid referee” repeatedly in front of everybody is definitely something you want to avoid.
I would assume that, after 17 times organising the same tournament, the organisers would already know and understand the weaknesses and take the proper actions to fix them. I guess they did learn something from the way the tournament was run. A big hand for the organisers for a job well done.
But.. the one weakness you did not bother to correct is the referees.
You might say that the referees are beyond your jurisdiction since they are under the Penang Netball Association. And also that there were several netball tournaments running at the same time, so there was a shortage of quality referees. Fine.. but the very least you could have done was ensure that the referees engaged for the tournament are of a certain minimum grade (if they do have grades), or with lots of experience. I’m sure that with high quality referees, you will get high quality games, with no complaints whatsoever.
A couple of times during the tournaments I saw the insensitivity of the referees. Each time, a player was injured and required medical attention but instead of giving injury time-off, the referees just continued the game without any regard to the players. Technically, injury time-off will be given when the players request for it, but when one of them was cradling her wrist in obvious pain (probably broken) and the other one was writhing in the mud, surely you can forego the technicality and just call off the time. Have you no sympathy at all?
We do not begrudge our loss in the semi-final. It is the nature of tournaments.. some win, some lose. No big deal. But when a major contributor to the loss was the low quality of the referees, it did leave a bitter taste in our mouths. One is tempted to say that the referees were deliberately biased to the other team.
We did not turn up for the prize-giving ceremony. In a way, it was our message to the organisers that the tournament sucks. Or to be more precise, the referees suck. Funnily enough, our team was given the Fair Play Award. Personally, I don’t know whether I should be pleased or insulted. The whole team had a good laugh at that. I think I will dedicate the award to the referees, insult intended.
It’s really sad when these things happened in a big tournament like this. When you had participants from countries like Sri Lanka and Australia, one would assume that the quality of the whole tournament is put at number 1. Not just for the sake of getting as many teams participating as possible. If I’m not mistaken, you managed to get into the Malaysia’s Book of Records for the highest number of teams participating in any netball tournament. Good on ya!
Have you considered, though, that you might also be recorded in the same book as the tournament with the WORST referees ever? Definitely something not to be proud of, don’t you agree?
In conclusion, there are two things that I would like to request from the tournament organisers:
- Please do not look down on men’s netball. We are as good as or even better than most women’s players.
- Please do something about the quality of the referees for future tournaments. It is insulting that the men’s matches were judged by substandard referees.