“It’s been challenging but it’s been fun. Challenging (because) the school needs a good netball court but really fun and rewarding because they are like sponges and so many of our young people want guidance,” she added. The netball team, under the guidance of coach, Christopher Smart, won the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Under 19 Urban title last year. “There is so much respect and admiration that the players have for him (Smart) and the way he interacts with them. The discipline is very important and so they know that once they step on the court for training or matches, Excelsior’s brand becomes foremost in their minds and so far I couldn’t find a better way to spend the free time that I have time now,” she added. Bernard, who is an accountant by training, and was also treasurer for the International Netball Federation before stepping down from that role a few years ago, said the experience she gained at the higher level helped her in her current role. Bernard makes all the arrangements for matches such as player registration, hydration, transportation, and in conjunction with the school’s sports department, helps to monitor the movement of students between training, matches and home. “I couldn’t sit down and not let my sport be a part of the disciplines that are doing well,” she explained. The programme is a holistic one and the girls are helped with their homework and as she calls it taught “soft skills”. “It’s the soft skills that a lot of these girls need and they’re going to leave school and go out into the working world and I want to impart some of the skills I learnt from my parents,” she said. THEY WANT GUIDANCE After finding satisfaction in giving back to her alma mater Excelsior High School former Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard is encouraging other women to do the same. Bernard, who left the top post at Netball Jamaica in 2015 after 10 years at the helm, was moved by the way many from all alumnae of prominent all boys institutions have already mastered the art of giving back. “There is a need for those of us who have the time to give back. I would like to see many more women just coming back and giving back to their high school. If it makes a difference in just one person’s life it is worth it,” she told The Gleaner. Since last July, Bernard has been the effective manager of Excelsior High School’s ‘lady eagles’ netball team. She said she was inspired to take on the role after observing Excelsior Old Boys Desmond Shakespeare and track team head coach David Riley in action. “I said ‘this is my school and I have a lot of time on my hands’ and it’s a no brainer because working with young people is something I enjoy and the girls need us to come back to help with that part of the programme because we have been doing well in so many areas,” she said.