Netball 2023: Alyssa Healy ‘refuses to believe netball is a poor sport’ amid pay dispute, Constellation Cup, Diamonds

Australian cricket captain Alyssa Healy says she “refuses to believe netball is a poor sport” as the ongoing pay dispute continues to drag on.

Super Netball deals expired on September 30 with players’ futures left in limbo amid an ongoing dispute between Netball Australia and the players’ association over the collective players agreement.

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The Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA) released a statement last week criticising the governing body for rejecting the players’ “modest requests” and offering an “unfair three-year deal” that “rejected a real partnership with the players”.

Netball Australia said it had offered a 20 per cent boost to the CPA to $1.275m over three years, but the two sides appear likely to enter mediation that could drag on for months.

It’s resulted in players including Diamonds captain Liz Watson verbally committing to changing teams without having a contract in place.

The pay dispute comes while Australia is dominating the Constellation Cup against New Zealand in yet another impressive performance by the Diamonds, who have won every trophy available in world netball.

Healy leads the Australian’s women’s cricket team, who along with the Diamonds, are arguably our two most successful national teams at the moment.

Speaking on the ABC’s Offsiders program, Healy said she couldn’t reconcile the contrast between the success and the popularity of the Diamonds with Netball Australia’s financial woes.

“I was there the other night. I was there at the game, a fan of the game,” Healy said, referring to Australia’s Game 1 Constellation Cup victory at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena.

“I’m sitting there, I’m watching 10,000 people there. Sponsors everywhere, the product (is) amazing, the line to the merchandise out the door.

“Netball has got to have money, surely. There’s got to be money coming in. I refuse to believe it’s a poor sport at the moment just the way that I watch it unfold.

“As a female athlete watching netball go through that, that makes me really sad.”

Watson said the Diamonds were determined to put the pay negotiations to one side and not let the dispute become a distraction.

“To go public with (the statement) was not ideal, it’s something we didn’t want to have to do … it sort of got to that point,” she said.

“Obviously, there’s been things bubbling along in the background, but we have a lot of trust in our association, our delegates back home … they have really stepped up to take on that bigger role while we can be here and perform and be fully Diamonds.”

Watson, who is expected to leave Melbourne Vixens for Sunshine Coast Lightning when the CPA is finalised, said the situation was “stressful” after players had expected negotiations to be resolved before the World Cup.

“It obviously is stressful … no one has security of a club, I guess that does bring a lot of stress in different ways,” she said.

“We know that it’s going to get there, and we’re working really hard to get the best deal and best outcome for our whole league.

“It’s for that security, to start planning for the future … pre-seasons will start very, very soon, so ideally as quickly as it can be (resolved).”

The Diamonds have all but retained the Constellation Cup after taking a 2-0 lead, but they will look to claim a series clean sweep in the final two games in New Zealand on Thursday and Monday.

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