Australian netball coach calls for more indigenous players in her squad

By Taroi Black
Coach Lisa Alexander talking to players during match in Auckland / Getty Images

Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander has spoken out about the lack of diversity in her national side and wants to see more women of colour on the court.

“Our past in our connection with our indigenous sisters is definitely not where it should be,” Alexander told Te Ao Maori News.

Currently, the entire 13-women Diamonds squad are all white which is unlike other sporting codes in Australia, like rugby or league, whose teams reflect the country’s multi-cultural society. Even the Silver Ferns teams regularly have players who are Maori or Pacific Islander.

Alexander, mother of three children of Aboriginal descent, says, “I’m a big supporter of us making sure to really embrace our indigenous population particularly in netball.It hasn’t done well in the past. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Marcia Ella Duncan inducted to Netball Australia's Hall of Fame in 2015

It’s been 20 years since a First Nations athlete was selected for the national Australian netball team, when Sharon Finnan-White wore the green and gold dress.

First Nations advocate and Netball Australia board member Marcia Ella Duncan says the wait for another indigenous player has been too long.

“I have a personal theory that there is a high level of unconscious bias in the system,” says Duncan.

Australian Diamonds mascot / Getty Images

A former world champion, Duncan played 18 matches for Australia between the 1980's. She says during her early years of playing elite netball, she was subjected to racial slurs from other teammates.

Duncan says the current team’s mascot, a blonde hair, blue eyed white girl dressed in a Diamonds uniform, maybe a reflection of the women currently in the national side but it’s not a fair representation of Australia’s multi-cultural landscape.

“Recognising the impact of colonisation on aboriginal people, understanding the legacy of colonisation will allow us to work together into a more inclusive Australia.”

The talented midcourter is also currently an integral part of the Australian Diamonds 'Welcome to Country' which highlights the cultural significance of Aboriginal people. She presented the initiative at the 2019 Constellation Cup test 3 in Sydney last Sunday. 

Jemma Mi Mi giving her teammates high fives / Getty Images

Current coach Alexander is determined to bridge the gap and develop more indigenous players.

“Jemma Mi Mi is there playing for the Firebirds. She played in the Australia A team and hopefully she will find her way through soon,” Alexander says.

Perth are expected to have a sellout crowd when the Diamonds face the Silver Ferns in the deciding match of the Constellation Cup tomorrow, an award that Australia have proudly dominated for the past 11 years.