Netball Sponsorship 2022 | Netball boss only ‘reasonably concerned’ of future

Losing mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s $15 million sponsorship has left Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan “reasonably concerned”.

But she remains confident the “right plans” are in place to keep the sport afloat.

Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting announced on Saturday it was pulling the pin on the deal which would have pulled the organisation out of a $7 million hole.

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“We are reasonably concerned but at the same time, we have been incredibly transparent with the financial position of our sport throughout the course of the year and having suffered many losses across the last couple of years due to COVID,” Ryan said on Nine’s Weekend TODAY.

“We are certainly acutely aware of where our sport has been positioned (and) we have been doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes throughout the year to make sure we can right our ship.

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

Issues were first raised at a team meeting in early October when Indigenous shooter Donnell Wallam spoke about her desire to not wear the Hancock logo, given its founder Lang Hancock’s – Rinehart’s father – 1984 proposal that some Indigenous people be sterilised to “breed themselves out”.

Not wanted to wear the logo, the rest of the Diamonds playing group reportedly stood by her, telling her she wouldn’t look any different to them when she makes her debut in the green and gold dress against England.

In announcing the withdrawal, the company took a swipe at Netball Australia, saying it didn’t want to add to their “disunity problems”, while in a separate statement condemned sports organisations being “used as the vehicle for social or political causes”.

Kelly was non-committal when asked directly if she supported the players’ decision to boycott the logo.

“Obviously Mrs Reinhart’s views are hers and we fully appreciate them. I think it all comes down to making sure there is a really strong balance,” she said.

“There is a really important role that sporting organisations do play from grassroots right through to the elite to create a safe environment to have really strong social conversations, but there also needs to be a balance in terms of the commercial realities of that as well and making sure that you continue to be able to invest in the future of your sport.

“Both are incredibly important to any sporting organisation. It is about making sure that we can strike that right balance.”

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