This letter was submitted to Australian Community Media as an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian by a number of NSW and Australian Netball players. The letter published below is in their words.
Netball has always blazed its own trail on the Australian sporting landscape but we have never faced a challenge quite like the Covid-19 Pandemic.
New South Wales is a proud and successful Netball state. Our game is an intrinsic part of life in every community across the state - 115,000 players strong. In normal times we are silent achievers but the time has come for us to speak up.
For almost a century Netball has provided women and girls with a social outlet which promotes wellbeing and teamwork. Netball has given us a platform to shine.
The game's motto at this time is simple: no one gets left behind. Whether you play in the far reaches of regional NSW or in the centre of Sydney the Netball NSW team is working tirelessly to ensure its plan allows for the viability of Netball in all areas. We all want to get back on the court.
Netball NSW acted quickly and decisively at the onset of the pandemic, slashing its budget in order to remain viable. However, the current situation continues to adversely impact the entire Netball community's regular sources of revenue, and operating costs continue to be incurred.
The game is facing a financial crisis.
Unfortunately, these issues are exacerbated by a major lack of guidance and confirmation at State Government level when it comes to the return of community sport.
Other states have provided financial assistance and a return to play date for sport, yet in NSW we have nothing. This is even harder to fathom given the Australian Institute of Sport has written the guidelines on how to reboot sport across the country.
At a time when schools are back in session, pubs and restaurants are able to host up to 50 people and life looks like it is getting back to normal, community sport is high and dry without even a hint of when further information might be forthcoming.
We recognise that our problem is a shared one across most community sports. No-one expects us to run competitions the same way we did in 2019. As it has been for generations, our game is willing to be innovative and flexible when it comes to approaching competition this year.
Netball NSW is a non-profit organisation. It was founded by brave, pioneering women for whom nothing came easy. Now we are fighting for survival. It must not be allowed to flounder through a situation not of its own making.
Netball NSW has done everything we can to this point. The onus is now on the State Government to fulfil their duty to 115,000 players in NSW and tell us when we can return to Netball.Signed:
- Maddy Proud, Captain - NSW Swifts
- Briony Akle, Head Coach - NSW Swifts
- Jo Harten, Captain - Giants Netball
- Caitlin Bassett, Captain - Australian Diamonds
- Julie Fitzgerald, Head Coach, Giants Netball