Netball World Cup prize money: ‘There needs to be recognition for the value of womens sport’

Upper Hutt College netball players Grace Allan, Ariana Tata, and Onslow College players Ella Taylor, Emma Brown - Photo: RNZ / Laura Dooney

Young netball players up and down New Zealand got up well before their alarms yesterday morning to see the Silver Ferns win their first World Cup in 16 years.

Upper Hutt College netball player Ariana Tata was one of them.

"It was thrilling," she said before her own game of netball in Wellington about 12 hours later.

"I had goosebumps the whole time, and in the last two minutes, it was just unbelievable. Me and my mum were sitting there going 'we're going to win it'.

"I'm getting goosebumps now talking about it, it was such a cool game to watch."

Her teammate Grace Allan watched it too - and felt the game was so good it would would help raise the profile of the sport - and might spur their Upper Hutt College team on to win their competition.

Yet, unlike the Black Caps squad which was awarded $3 million for coming second in their world cup a week earlier, the Silver Ferns received no prize money with their winners' trophy.

Netball New Zealand is keen to pay its players better - but says there needs to be proper global recognition of women's sport.

Maria Folau and teammates react after winning the Netball World Cup with a 52-51 victory over Australia in the final.

Maria Folau and teammates celebrate their 52-51 victory over Australia which earned them the Netball World Cup - but no prize money. Photo: Photosport / AFP

Young players are aware of the difference in pay between women's and men's sport and Onslow College player Emma Brown said she hoped the Silver Ferns' win would get people talking about that discrepancy.

Netball New Zealand chief executive Jennie Wyllie said netball was the most played sport among girls and women, and the most popular sport at high school level regardless of gender.

Speaking from the UK before getting on her flight home, Ms Wyllie said the governing body's goal was to be able to play top netballers as well as it could, but it needed to balance that with growing the sport at a grassroots level.

That would take the support of the community, the government, and everyone else involved.

"Overall there needs to be recognition for the value of women's sport, and also at an international level our governing body needs to work as hard as they can to really maximise the benefit of the 20 million young women and girls that play netball around the globe."

She expected this year's World Cup would help raise the profile of the sport.

"We have a brand new president at our international body and we're really excited about the changes that are coming.

"The sport is growing - particularly here in the UK, the prominence is massive - it's really on the rise, and we've just got to do everything we can to optimise the opportunity that this presents."

The World Cup win would demonstrate that women's sport holds a lot of value for commercial sponsors, she said, and the organisation hoped to grow the support it had from commercial partners.

The Silver Ferns were well paid compared with their international counterparts, Netball Players Association executive director Stephanie Bond said.

The average salary for players who were in the national team and a Suncorp Super Netball team was about $75,000. Netballers also got a bigger slice of the revenue compared to women playing rugby, or cricket.

The big question was how to get more eyeballs on the game, attracting bigger broadcast deals, and more sponsorship.

Better media coverage would be a start, she said.

"In the last 24 hours we've seen a lot of media around the Silver Ferns but prior to that sometimes you wouldn't even really know there was a World Cup going on."

Back at the netball courts in Wellington, Onslow College player Ella Taylor agreed the media was letting the sport down.

"I was watching the news the other day and they were talking about how the Cricket World Cup's on and the Rugby World Cup's on, and then there was no mention of the netball and I was like 'hold on a second, they're playing as well'.

"Sometimes it just gets missed."

Stephanie Bond said that in the wake of the World Cup win, now was the time to get on the bandwagon and push for more exposure of the sport.

Prize money 'not even on the table' for netballers

International Netball Federation chief executive Clare Briegal told Morning Report today netball was at the very early stages of development commercially compared with other, predominantly male-dominated, sports.

Teams were still paying their own way to get to the Netball World Cup and the event relied on support from government and sponsors.

"Prize money's not something that's even on the table at the moment for our netballers."

She said any surplus from the Netball World Cup was currently shared between the international body, host nations and participating countries.

"That seems fairer to us - those smaller countries need the money, moreso than some of the bigger countries."

Netball has a huge following developed by New Zealand broadcasters, but around the world the sport his hardly seen on television.

"Without that exposure, the sponsors aren't so readily there ... there was growing money coming into the sport, but it is so little."

She said major brands like Nike and Puma were starting to come in.

Women in Sport Aotearoa co-chair Sarah Leberman, a Massey University professor in leadership, said until recently there had bee a vicious circle of under-investment by government, broadcasters and sponsors of women's sport globally.

But positive change was happening, she said, such as "incredible coverage" of the football world cup, breaking the myth that people don't like to watch women's sport.

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