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You win some, you lose some, but netball’s losses are beginning to mount up

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich says she’s proud of her players but believes there’s lessons to be learned after a tumultuous weekend began with the loss of a key sponsor and ended with Constellation Cup series victory.

Oct 24, 2022, updated Oct 24, 2022
Gina Rinehardt's Hancock Agriculture has revealed the sale of four cattle stations in Queensland and the Northern Territory. (AAP photo).

Gina Rinehardt's Hancock Agriculture has revealed the sale of four cattle stations in Queensland and the Northern Territory. (AAP photo).

Billionaire Gina Rinehart’s mining company Hancock Prospecting on Saturday pulled the plug on its controversial offering in a surprise, major blow to the sport’s financial future.

The deal appeared to be a lifeline after Netball Australia (NA) suffered losses of more than $7 million in two Covid-impacted years.

Hancock had agreed to a $15 million sponsorship deal over four years, due to go directly to the high-performance program.

But it broke down when Indigenous player Donnell Wallam took exception to the company’s record on Indigenous matters dating back 40 years to offensive comments by Rinehart’s late father Lang Hancock.

The West Australian, set to debut on Wednesday against England, had the backing of her team and had reportedly agreed to wear the company’s logo on her uniform after initially asking for an exemption.

But the deal was pulled in any event, while mining firm Roy Hill, majority-owned by Hancock, will also withdraw its sponsorship of Netball WA and the West Coast Fever.

Marinkovich said she was proud to “provide an environment where someone felt safe enough to raise a concern”.

“It’s how you work through that is where you grow as a group,” she qualified after the Diamonds’ comeback 57-53 win on the Gold Coast on Sunday won back the Constellation Cup.

“There’s the right time and the right space to have those conversations.

“It’s about providing an environment where you can work through situations.

“It’s not necessarily our area of expertise and something we need to grow in how we do it.

“Sport’s a unique environment and it got a little bit bigger than what it needed to be and we’ve all learnt incredible lessons.

“We’re growing immensely and the sport’s growing with that.”

The companies will continue their funding for four months to allow NA and Netball WA time to secure new partners, with Marinkovich hopeful their brand of netball is enough to woo a new sponsor.

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In a statement, Rinehart’s company took aim at NA’s “virtue signalling”.

NA boss Kelly Ryan responded that a balance needed to be struck between allowing “strong social conversations” and the “commercial realities” of funding a high-performance program.

Fever boss Simone Hansen described her Super Netball club as “collateral damage to the national situation.”

“We are frustrated that all netball stakeholders were unable to come to a united position and that this has played out in the media,” she said.

Ryan told Channel Nine the move was “reasonably concerning” given NA’s financial position.

“We’re acutely aware of where our sport is positioned and doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes to right-size our ship,” she said.

“It’s very disappointing to lose this funding that was going to help accelerate us forward.

“I’m still incredibly confident we have the right plans in place to get the sport to where it needs to be.”

 

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