Australian National Netball Team The Diamondshave reportedly taken a stand against Netball Australia’s new sponsor, mining giant Hancock Prospecting, after being approached by their former captain Sharni Norder.
The Diamonds, who are in New Zealand for the Constellation Cup series with the second game in Tauranga on Sunday, are said to be concerned about the sponsor being branded on their kit.
Netball Australia and its Players Association are in urgent talks ahead of Sunday’s second Constellation Cup Test against New Zealand in Tauranga after Diamonds players raised the issue of taking to the netball court against New Zealand in uniforms featuring new sponsor Hancock Prospecting.
Netball Australia confirmed the new team kit had been delayed “pending the resolution of outstanding issues relating to the temporary player agreement and some sensitivities”.
Late last month, the nonprofit announced a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with a billionaire mining magnate. Gina Rinehart. The sponsorship, which will run until the end of 2025, was to focus on the high-performance sports programme.
However, Netball Australia now said in a prepared statement: “This delay allows the players to focus on the Constellation Cup while Netball Australia and the Australian Netball Players Association resolve these matters in due course.
“Netball Australia is committed to continuing these conversations and working with all parties for the benefit of our sport,” it said in a statement.
“The Hancock Prospecting partnership is one of the most significant investments in our sport, with $15 million over four years, 100% dedicated to players, coaches and the high-performing Diamonds program, providing an opportunity to help grow and strengthen netball. .
“Netball Australia, Hancock Prospecting and the Diamonds will continue to work together for the benefit of the whole sport.”
The dispute comes at a pivotal time for the national team as it prepares for the 2023 Netball World Championships in Cape Town and the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.
Hancock Prospecting was due to feature on their uniforms as part of the deal, however the Diamonds wore the old strip in their opening defeat to the Silver Ferns on Wednesday.
Norder (née Layton), who was capped 46 times for Australia and captained the team in 2017, called on the governing body to “do better” than take money from Rinehart, who she described as a “climate denier”.
At the time of the announcement, Norder, who moved to the AFLW in 2018 and is an ambassador for the Sports Environment Alliance, said netball should not associate itself with Rinehart.
“As a proud ambassador for @SEA_theChange, it’s unacceptable to put our brand next to outright climate denial,” Norder tweeted. “We have too much invested in our sport to give a social license to a company whose profit-at-any-cost attitude puts our future at risk. Be better.”
The standoff also reportedly surrounds the views of Rinehart’s father, the late Lang Hancock, who founded the business and held strong right-wing views on Australia’s indigenous community.
The Diamonds have an Indigenous player in Donnell Wallam.
Norder told Fox Sports that she held an online meeting with the players to “educate” them about the sponsorship. “I did Zoom with the players just to teach them to do the right thing in the sport, and to do the right thing by themselves and to value their values,” Norder said.
“I just wanted to have a conversation — is this money worth your reputation and what you stand for as a person? It’s just that they make the right decisions for themselves, because they represent the clubs and our country, but also themselves.”
Earlier this year, the extent of netball’s cash crisis was revealed, with more than $7 million in losses over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hancock Prospecting is one of the most significant private investors in Australian sport, working with elite swimming, synchronized swimming, academic rowing and women’s volleyball, as well as making multi-million dollar commitments to the Australian Olympic Committee.