The head of the organization that oversees Australia’s national women’s basketball team, Netball Australia, said that the group is “reasonably concerned” about its financial situation following the withdrawal of a $15 million sponsorship deal from Gina Rinehart’s company. On Saturday, Hancock Prospecting announced that it was withdrawing its proposed partnership with the organization.
Donnell Wallam, an indigenous player who is expected to make her debut for the Diamonds during their upcoming series against England, reportedly refused to wear a uniform that featured the Hancock Prospecting logo due to her father Lang Hancock’s controversial statements about Indigenous Australians in the 1980s. In 1984, he said that they should be sterilized to “breed themselves out.”
Following a week of controversy, the company decided to withdraw its sponsorship deal with the organization. In a statement, Hancock Prospecting said that it was not aware of the issues between the Players Association and the organization. It added that it did not want to “add to the disunity issues of the organization.”
The commercial deal, which was valued at $15 million, would have provided the governing body with a financial lifeline, as it had lost over $7 million in the past two years due to the costs associated with the Super Netball competition. Kelly Ryan, the chief executive of the organization, said that the group was still “reasonably concerned” about its financial situation, but that it had been “very transparent” about its operations.
The organization was given a four-month grace period to find new funding sources. Ms Ryan said that the group would still be able to deliver the sport in the way it had been. When asked about the possible impact of the withdrawal on the grassroots level of the sport, she was non-committal on whether she agreed with the players’ decision to boycott the organization’s logo.
She also said that the organization fully appreciated Mrs Rinehart’s views. However, she noted that it was important to balance the various aspects of the organization’s operations, such as its social media presence and the commercial realities of the sport. The role of sporting organizations is to create a safe environment for their members, as well as to invest in the future of the sport.
One of the most important factors that a sporting organization has to consider is the balance between its social media presence and its commercial realities. In 2020, a coalition of national and international netball organizations signed a Declaration of Commitment, which called for greater efforts to break down the barriers that prevent indigenous players from participating in the sport.