Diamonds coach hails strength of netball ‘brand’ with new sponsor secured

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich said the Victorian Government’s sponsorship of Netball Australia underscores the sport’s strong brand and how her team is regarded nationally.

Marinkovich spoke for the first time since the $15 million deal with Visit Victoria was hit with Netball Australia. The four-and-a-half-year sponsorship deal runs until June 2027 and replaces the same amount that was taken off the table when mining company Hancock Prospecting withdrew its support.

Marinkovich said the sponsorship deal was “important for the whole sport” as she spoke to the media ahead of the Diamonds’ final game of the English Series at Nissan Arena in Brisbane on Thursday night.

“It’s an arrangement that benefits everyone, from the community right through to the high performance field,” she said. “We really appreciate the input from the Victorian Government and look forward to where the sport can continue to evolve across the board, so we have continued growth in Diamonds.

“It just shows that as a sport we have a strong brand and with the way we perform I think we represent women and communities very well. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

Diamond gambler Donnell Wallam, a 28-year-old woman from Noongar, was at the center of the sponsorship storm after raising concerns about wearing uniforms emblazoned with the Hancock Prospecting logo due to opinions expressed by the deceased Gina Rinehart’s father, Lang, on Aboriginal issues.

Marinkovich said Wallam, who plays for the Queensland Firebirds, received great support from the entire netball community during a difficult time.

“Although we had professional support, we also had support within the group,” she said. “The Diamonds didn’t play here. [at Nissan Arena] in maybe four years. I know Donnell enjoys being in that environment.

Wallam was a hero off the bench in the first game of the English series, scoring the game-winning goal, and missed the second with a stomach problem.

“She’s right to go now,” Marinkovich said. “I don’t know who’s starting, but we definitely want to make sure there’s an opportunity for her.”

Much criticism has been leveled at the Diamonds during the sponsorship controversy, but Marinkovich said the team is focusing on “what we think is important”.

Leading the English series 2-0, they have a chance to wipe the slate clean.

“People have their opinions, but for us it was about focusing on the inside,” Marinkovich said. “So we don’t go on social media and browse it because we can’t control it. This group is focused on the things we can control and that’s our performance.

“Yes, there has been a lot of noise around, but the commitment we have made to build towards a World Cup [next year] is in mind.

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