The hottest hits of the 2017 National Netball League

Megan Maurice Columnist

By Megan Maurice, Megan Maurice is a Roar Expert

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6 Have your say

    Even if you’re not a diehard netball fan, the new National Netball League (NNL) and its big new pay deal would have somehow seeped into your consciousness this week.

    If you’re not up to speed on all the latest wheelings and dealings, I’ve put together this handy playlist that you can sing along to, while finding out just what this whole NNL thing is all about.

    Money, money, money
    Compared to what a footballer makes for sitting on a bench each week, it’s not much, but the landmark pay deal is a huge step in the right direction for netball and women’s sport in general.

    Clubs will have a salary cap of $675,000 each to spend on ten players, bringing the average wage for a player up to $67,500, up from the average $22,500 across the now defunct Trans-Tasman Netball League.

    The minimum wage for players has more than doubled, from $13,250 to $27,375 – meaning a young up and comer can balance their netball with study without being worried they’re going to starve.

    The contracts are also part-time, with the hours between 10am and 4pm protected to allow players to focus on their studies or work at another job if need be.

    A Woman’s Worth
    In contrast, it was revealed recently that the majority of the players in the new women’s AFL competition will be paid just $5,000 for the eight-week competition.

    With the NNL offering a minimum wage that is more than five times that figure, not to mention more than the poultry $25,000 on offer for the marquee players in the women’s AFL, NNL has firmly stamped its intentions to retain the best female sporting talent in the country.

    This is an admirable goal and it is great to see codes fighting for the opportunity to sign the many amazing female athletes this country continues to produce.

    What I don’t like seeing, on the other hand, is a discussion about competing with other women’s sports for fans and media coverage.

    It shouldn’t be a competition between the NNL, the women’s AFL, the WBBL and the W-League to see who gets the bottom three centimetres of the tenth page of the sports section.

    It should be a competition between every sport – whether it’s men’s or women’s – to be front and centre of those sports pages. It would be a terrible shame to see one women’s sport get bumped from a newspaper completely because said newspaper has already filled its self-imposed women’s sports quota.

    Women in sport are here to stay, the sports are becoming more professional and it’s time for everyone to get on board with that.(Click to Tweet)

    In the past, every so often we all got a big shock when an established player left a club to join another.

    Nat Medhurst moving from the Queensland Firebirds to the West Coast Fever is a notable example, along with Sharni Layton leaving the Adelaide Thunderbirds for the NSW Swifts. But if rumours are to be believed, we’re heading for the off-season to end all off-seasons.

    Of the 14 players named in the Australian Diamonds team for the recent Quad Series and the upcoming Constellation Cup, nine are rumoured to be changing clubs for the 2017 season. Even the most dedicated and statistics-focussed of Fantasy Netball players couldn’t imagine making that many changes to existing line-ups.

    New Sensations
    Three new teams will enter the competition next year – the Collingwood Magpies, the Sunshine Coast Lightning (backed by the Melbourne Storm) and the as yet unnamed partnership between Netball NSW and the GWS Giants, who have been given the highly imaginative working title of Team NEW.

    Currently, all the buzz surrounds the new teams as they set to take the competition by storm (or lightning as the case may be).

    A few months back, Netball Australia announced that unlimited imports would be allowed for the new competition to give the new teams a chance to find their feet and bring in some international players to bolster their rosters.

    The new teams considered this briefly, then checked out the International Netball Federation’s world rankings website, where they happened to notice that Australia is ranked number one in the world by quite some way. Nice try Netball Australia, but you’ve got to wake up pretty early in the morning to fool Eddie McGuire. At least before 10am anyway.

    So off these teams have trod on their merry way, collecting Diamonds like they’re the Real Housewives of Melbourne. Collingwood is rumoured to have at least six current Diamonds on their books, while the other two teams have snapped up a couple each, along with the cream of the imported crop.

    You Can’t Hurry Collective Bargaining Agreements
    Originally the player contracting window was due to open on the first of August – the day after the last ever ANZ Championship grand final. As the date was pushed back several times, fans grew tired of waiting and started demanding answers.

    As we’ve seen, the waiting was worthwhile, as it has meant the players look to be getting the best possible deal and their rights will be protected.

    But fan frustration continues, the uncertainty surrounding the rosters of existing franchises for 2017 has affected the flow of membership sales. Fans don’t want to fork out their hard-earned for a team of players they have never heard of.

    It’s a difficult situation, but with yesterday’s announcement rosters should begin to take real shape.

    Either way, I’d rather step into a boxing ring with Sharni Layton than be answering phones in the membership department of any of the existing five franchises when the team lists start pouring in.

    The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning
    So what to make of all this? Is it the start of a beautiful new era for the sport or is it the beginning of the end for netball?

    Will the new clubs use their money, power and influence to bleed the other teams dry throughout the life of the competition?

    There are so many unknowns – particularly as we’re all working from rumours at the moment, but it does seem that better measures will need to be put in place to keep the talent spread more even.

    Whether this will happen naturally as players realise that a team of champions does not necessarily make a champion team, or whether some kind of points cap – assigning points to each player based on experience – is instituted to even out the competition in future seasons is yet to be determined.

    At this stage, I’m staying cautiously optimistic and looking to the future with interest.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • September 16th 2016 @ 11:45am
      Working Class Rugger said | September 16th 2016 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      It’s a solid start and a huge step in the right direction. In light of simon Orchard’s Op-ed posted on this very site just a day or so ago about balance in sporting endeavours it’s also encouraging to see that Netball Australia are looking at the development of not just the Netball athlete but the whole person as well.

      While I admit I’ve never been much of a Netball watcher from what I have seen of the the now defunct ANZ Championship the interest among fans was high. So to learn that the max salary was only $22,500 was a little surprisinf. Though I didn’t expect to be huge to begin with, sadly.

      But now there is the opportunity for players not only to earn a decent wahe but carve out a career as well. You would have to think that at least the 14 members of the Diamonds squad would each be pushing close to $100k.

      • Columnist

        September 16th 2016 @ 12:41pm
        Megan Maurice said | September 16th 2016 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        To clarify on the $22,500 – that was the *average* salary for the ANZC, not the maximum. There was a salary cap of $270,000 per team, split between 12 players.

        • September 16th 2016 @ 1:12pm
          Working Class Rugger said | September 16th 2016 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

          Must has misread that. Sorry. Still that’s not a terrible lot when you consider all the hard work and sacrifice that goes into being an elite athlete.

          • Columnist

            September 16th 2016 @ 1:41pm
            Megan Maurice said | September 16th 2016 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Totally agree – the new average of $67,500 and minimum of $27,375 is looking much more like something athletes can live on. We’re not all the way there, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, as you said.

            • September 16th 2016 @ 1:52pm
              Working Class Rugger said | September 16th 2016 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              Agreed. Hopefully we’ll see further progress toward something that resembles parity in the future.

    • September 16th 2016 @ 11:48am
      Working Class Rugger said | September 16th 2016 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      To add further. It’s actually a little surprising that the AFL is offering so little to female athletes. Arguably the wealthiest sporting organisation in the country and most players will earn a fairly poultry $5,000 for 8 weeks of play.

      It wouldn’t surprise me to see some sort of movement around the WBBL in terms of pay in the near-ish future considering the overall success of its inaugural season on TV last year.

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