Netball Australia has been thrown a $15 million lifeline from the Victorian government, just days after mining giant Hancock Prospecting withdrew its support from the cash-strapped sporting body.
Visit Victoria will sponsor Netball Australia for the next four-and-a-half years in a $15m deal.
Under the agreement, which runs until June 2027, next year’s Super Netball Grand Final will be played in Victoria.
The Diamonds will also wear Visit Victoria branding on their team kit and play five Test matches as well as hold training camps between 2023 and 2026.
The $15m figure effectively matches the funding Hancock Prospecting pulled from NA after player concerns over the track record of Gina Rinehart’s late father Lang on Indigenous issues.
The late Lang Hancock made comments in the 1980s suggesting Aboriginal people should be “sterilised”.
Indigenous player Donnell Wallam, a 28-year-old Noongar woman, had raised her concerns over wearing uniforms featuring the mining company’s logo.
Wallam’s fellow Diamonds supported her stance and Rinehart withdrew her company’s sponsorship deal, despite NA stressing their support for the partnership.
Skipper Liz Watson, a Victorian, said the new deal would help the Diamonds defend their Commonwealth Games gold medal on home soil in 2026.
“It is a really exciting one. The girls found out about an hour ago,” Watson said.
“I know they’re all delighted with this and what we’re going to be able to do leading up to the Commonwealth Games and wanting to defend that gold medal. It’s going to be huge for our state.
“It (the Hancock saga) played out the way it did.
“I think everyone is excited we’ve got this amazing opportunity ahead of us.”
Australia have already sealed their three-game series against England but play the third and final match in Brisbane on Thursday.
Netball Australia boss Kelly Ryan said the sponsorship was constructed differently to the Hancock deal but delivered a similar amount of capital.
NA had spoken to other state governments, while Ryan said there had been ongoing dialogue with Rinehart in recent weeks.
“She was an incredible backer of our sport so we’ve certainly kept in contact and made sure that we’ve ended the partnership as best we can,” Ryan told reporters on Monday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews described the Victorian deal as a coup for the state.
“Obviously there was a sponsor. That sponsor was no more so there was a gap and Visit Victoria raced to fill it,” he told reporters.
“Other states wanted this but Victoria secured it.”