Netball’s big challenge is staying number one in women’s sport, says new boss

Newly appointed Netball Australia chair Marina Go says her first priority will be to ensure netball continues as the number one sport for women, despite the huge growth of sporting options now available to female athletes.

Go, who was appointed as chair Netball Australia last week, believes the development of rival codes such as soccer and AFLW in recent years has led to the game being threatened at the grassroots.

Netball has dropped from 4.5 per cent participation – and a spot in Australia’s top 10 sports – to just 2.8 per cent. Aussie rules, soccer, and athletics, on the other hand, have all been on the rise.

Marina Go has vowed her first point of order will be to ensure netball continues to reign as the number one sport for women after being appointed the chair of the Netball Australia board last week. Credit:Louise Kennerley

“The only way you get people playing at the elite level, to get the best Diamonds and the best Super Netball teams is if you actually have young players coming through, it’s a funnel,” she said.

“You need to actually have a large participation to get the best possible people. We don’t want to lose that talent to other sports because of course some of the skills are transferable particularly at a young age.

“For us, it will be a priority.”

Last week, Go was elevated from the chairman of the Super Netball board to now chairman of Netball Australia – which will now run the entire game from the Diamonds to the grassroots.

As part of the governance changes, the Super Netball board was dissolved with the domestic and national league now running as one entity.

Last year, the Super Netball board copped a huge amount of backlash after implementing the two-point Super Shot with minimal player consultation.

The backlash was so fierce, Vixens defender Jo Weston issued a statement as the player’s union vice-president, stating: “Netball players are not just ‘cattle’ that train and play” on behalf of the playing group.

But Go said the new board would not back down when making decisions in the best interest of the game.

“We may not always agree,” she said.

“There may be a difference of opinion in terms of what is the right thing to grow the sport and we are the custodians of that and we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the growth of the sport in the long term.”

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