Australian netball great Liz Ellis has voiced her disappointment that players were forced to attend a ceremony for the award named in her honour.
Liz Ellis says Netball Australia has treated Diamonds players with “callous disregard”Ellis was highly critical of NA threatening legal action to force players to attend an awards ceremonyEllis questioned if NA was “capable of providing the leadership the sport so desperately needs”
In the midst of a lengthy pay dispute, Netball Australia (NA) threatened Diamonds players with legal action if they did not attend Saturday night’s event.
Several players had planned not to attend in protest.
Ellis was not in attendance at the event due to a scheduling conflict — something she says only happened as NA did not give her proper notice of the date of the ceremony — but on Monday released a statement expressing her anger at the situation.
“My disappointment and embarrassment at not being able to attend turned into anger when I was made aware that current Diamonds players and their advisers were threatened with possible legal action if they did not attend the dinner,” Ellis said.
“As a former Diamonds captain, I can not believe that the governing body of the sport I love would treat its Diamonds athletes, who are brilliant role models and ambassadors for netball, with such callous disregard.”
Ellis was clear in her support for the players, who remain locked in a stand-off with administration about the next collective bargaining agreement.
“These are women who have not been paid in eight weeks. Who are fighting for fair pay and conditions not only for themselves but for the players who come after them.
“Who consider themselves custodians of the game. And who I suspect would love nothing more than to attend an event where their world-beating heroics of the past 12 months were to be celebrated.
“Yet who felt so strongly about what they were fighting for, that they were prepared to forego celebrations.”
Ellis also called out the leadership at NA, questioning if they could be entrusted with navigating the current situation.
“So, yet again, netball finds itself in the headlines for the wrong reasons — another crisis entirely of the sport’s own making,” Ellis said.
“This has happened so often in recent times the question must be asked whether Netball Australia is capable of providing the leadership the sport so desperately needs.
“This question must be asked not just by players, or ex-players like me, but by the whole system. And it is a question that needs an immediate answer.”
Courtney Bruce took out the top award on Saturday night, and Ellis said she was “thrilled” to see a fellow goalkeeper take out the honour.
It is not known if Bruce had intended to attend the ceremony, but a statement from the players association on the night made their collective stance clear.
“The Diamonds are attending the Netball Australia Awards tonight because we are legally obligated to be present,” a players association statement read.
“With no agreement on our Collective Player Agreement, (Super Netball) players have been unpaid for nearly eight weeks.
“What we have requested is affordable and sustainable to the game and promotes a genuine partnership to grow the game.”