Netball: Dawson in shock over job snub

By Peter White

Sheryl Dawson says she is still coming to terms with the shock news that she missed out on the chief executive role at the newly created Waikato Bay of Plenty Netball Zone.

Yesterday, she spoke exclusively to the Bay of Plenty Times after last week's announcement that she had missed out on the job.

The new zone replaces the former Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Poverty Bay Netball associations, which essentially leaves Dawson out in the cold completely when it comes to netball.

She is still coming to terms with what has happened and the obvious emotion in her voice showed her devastation at being passed over.

She is still not sure what went on in the selection process that was at the core of the controversy, which was made public by Magic board member Paula Thompson, who resigned with Shirley Baker in disgust at how Dawson missed out on the final interview cut.

"Naturally I am disappointed," said Dawson. "I don't really want to comment further [on the selection process] as I have only just arrived back and I really haven't had a chance to sit down and look at it all.

"I'm a great believer that you need to look at the facts and the evidence so at this stage I just don't want to comment on the process at all.

"I just don't know what else I can say at this stage but I have had the privilege of working with, and meeting with, wonderful people from whom I have learned so much.

"And I really believe I leave Kia Magic in great shape for the future and netball in the Bay of Plenty in a very strong position.

"Thanks to so many who have touched my life in a myriad of ways and at this point I am looking forward to the next adventure in my life."

Dawson was disappointed with reports that said there had been poor financial performances at the Magic under her watch in recent years.

"I guess I get disappointed at the lack of accuracy in some of the reports that I read. There are a lot of myths and legends out there and that is what I am finding so tough at the moment.

"Why do I believe I am leaving Kia Magic in great shape for the future? Well, I inherited a financial situation which was challenging and we worked hard at the board level, and the staff worked hard, to put together a good strategic plan and an operational plan under that," she said.

"We worked really hard to increase sponsorship revenue, to drive ticket sales, to increase memberships to turn it around.

"It looks like in 2012, unexpectedly, we will post a profit as we were hoping to break even, and looking at 2013, given the sponsorship we were working towards, we are clearly looking at an even better profit.

"Which would mean that, financially, within the next two years, all debts would be taken care of and the ship would have been righted sooner than we would have anticipated with regard to the plan."

Former Magic board member Baker worked closely with Dawson on the five-year financial plan put in place in 2010 when Dawson moved from marketing manager to become chief executive.

Baker, a financial controller by trade, said Dawson rescued the situation when she took over.

"Her skills and understanding in the business meant we had the confidence in her to rescue it back," said Baker.

"The thing I want to clarify is the myth that Netball NZ put in hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Magic.

"The Magic never had a loan from Netball NZ, it had an overdraft, and after this restructure that overdraft has been paid off.

"That is the only debt ever incurred by Netball NZ for the Magic but we have never had a loan from them. In terms of the other franchises, they have had loans interest free, but the Magic have paid their own way by paying bank interest on an overdraft."

Mount Maunganui resident Dawson has a final word on the outstanding growth in netball in the Bay of Plenty region so close to her heart.

"It is has been really exciting to watch the way that the centres here have really grown and developed over the past few years, and how they are now totally engaged in many of the programmes and projects that are run, along with the support from our schools.

"People have really developed, I believe, a strong basis to take the game forward at the centres and in schools. We have had increased participation year-on-year and we are seeing our smaller centres - like Opotiki, Katikati and Te Puke in particular - really embracing some new approaches to help these small centres remain viable and working positively.

"Given the distances people have to travel in order to get competition, the important thing is to hold the basis of the game for youngsters in those centres so that they grow and develop.

"What we have done is grown a game and at the end of the day the game is bigger than all of us, and we need to make sure that it remains that way."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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