By RON FANFAIR
The late Lystra Lewis was pivotal to the development of the sport in the region, says Caribbean Netball Association (CNA) president Kathy Harper-Hall.
Lewis passed away last July in her native Trinidad & Tobago after a brief illness.
“Lystra meant everything to the sport in the Caribbean,” said Harper-Hall while on a brief visit to Toronto last week. “She was the pillar of netball, especially in the Eastern Caribbean and we have certainly lost a stalwart.”
Harper-Hall said the CNA honoured Lewis in 1995 in St. Kitts and again in 2004 in T & T after she retired from the sport.
“I am certainly glad that we did that and paid tribute to her because some of us wait until people die to recognize their enormous contributions,” said Harper-Hall, who is also the general secretary of the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association.
The fifth of six children born in Woodbrook, Lewis founded the West Indies Netball Association in 1963 and coached the T & T team that took part in the inaugural World Netball Championships in 1963.
She also served as president of the Trinidad & Tobago Netball Association, the CNA and the Americas Federation of Netball Associations and held the post of regional director of the International Federation of Netball Associations.
Jamaican-born Harper-Hall, who has resided in Barbados for the past 39 years, has been the CNA president since 1996.
She said the sport is growing in the region in spite of limited government and corporate financial sport.
“Much of the money is spent on cricket and soccer, yet we have three countries that are ranked in the top 11 teams in the world,” she said. “Not too many sports have three people or teams ranked so high, so we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Jamaica is ranked fourth, T & T ninth and Barbados 11th in the International Netball Federation’s current world standing.