Furious parents have hurled abuse from the stands as they watched an all-boys netball team trounce a girls team 46-12 in a state grand final – after they were controversially allowed into the competition by organisers.
The 46-12 victory by the Queensland Suns male team in the state’s under-18 titles against the all-female Bond University Bull Sharks at Brisbane‘s Nissan Arena drew an angry response from some of the crowd who were appalled at the mismatch.
‘The abuse ranged from comments made courtside deliberately within earshot of the Suns contingent, to adults making vulgar comments directly behind the team bench,’ Suns head coach Tammy Holcroft told The Courier-Mail.
‘It’s disappointing that the frustration was directed at the players.’
The 46-12 victory by the Queensland Suns men’s team in the state’s under-18 titles against the all-female Bond University Bull Sharks at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena drew an angry response from some of the crowd
Netball Queensland defended the decision to include the boys was because they had no where else to play and encourage other male players of the sport
‘We will lose girls to the sport if this is what their biggest competition for their year at this level means,’ one person commented online
‘We acknowledge this has caused controversy, but it in no way justifies the abuse, intimidation experienced by our players and officials,’ the Queensland Suns said in a statement
Netball Queensland defended its decision to include the boys in the tournament, where they easily won their seven games on the way to the title, on the basis they had nowhere else to play due to the lower number of male players.
‘This year in an effort to show case the talent in both female and male pathways we offered the QLD Suns Men’s team the opportunity to play in the Nissan State Titles, having welcomed them in an invitational capacity last year,’ it stated.
‘We are hopeful this will be a catalyst for a stand alone men’s competition in 2022.’
The organisation said senior netball teams the Queensland Firebirds and Sapphires regularly trained against male players.
The boys’ team released its own statement in which it said it participated in the competition ‘to highlight the possibilities for boys in the sport’.
‘Queensland Suns acknowledges the perceptions of disadvantage or unfairness for the girls regional teams, however the purpose of the opportunity afforded to us was not to overshadow them, but to provide some much-needed exposure on a significant stage,’ it said.
‘We acknowledge this has caused controversy, but it in no way justifies the abuse, intimidation experienced by our players and officials.
‘No athlete, in any sport, should be subjected to this behaviour for any reason.’
NRL great Cameron Smith (left) said his wife Barbara (right) had attended one of the Queensland Suns’ matches during the week. ‘The males were just too fast, too physical, it was just a disadvantage to the girls,’ he told SEN radio
NRL great Cameron Smith addressed the controversy on SEN this morning after his wife Barbara had watched a match the Suns played against the daughter of Smith’s former Melbourne Storm teammate Matt Geyer during the tournament.
‘She just said Matt’s daughter’s team were a gun side and they had no chance, Smith said.
‘The males were just too fast, too physical, it was just a disadvantage to the girls.
‘It’s crazy. How do you put one male team in against all the other females and expect the girls to compete? Particularly at that age when they’re still developing. It’s not fair.
‘That’s a weird one to enter a male team in the netball competition.’
NRL commentator Andrew Voss agreed on the SEN breakfast show, calling the match ‘a farce’.
‘How is that common sense? You’re surely not going to endorse that as the way of the future, at Under-18s level.
‘They say they want to be inclusive, not exclusive. That’s bulls***.’
‘Women athletes at this age are at a disadvantage to the males – let’s look at average height, weight, arm span and jump height for the top teams. Unrealistic at this level,’ one person commented online about the mismatch
Comments online from parents and netball fans expressed concern for the mental health of the players after the encounter.
‘We will lose girls to the sport if this is what their biggest competition for their year at this level means,’ one person wrote.
‘Women athletes at this age are at a disadvantage to the males – let’s look at average height, weight, arm span and jump height for the top teams. Unrealistic at this level.’
Others criticised Netball Queensland for turning the titles into a laughing stock.
‘Terrible decision on your part to think this was going to be ok,’ posted one person.
‘Should have been invitational, otherwise pick some boys for the Under-19 team. I can see what you’re trying to achieve, this is not the way to do it.’
‘No good for mental health on both sides, the boys don’t get everyone celebrating their victory and the girls… don’t get to celebrate their true achievements. Mental health not considered today,’ wrote another person.
But others defended the inclusion of the Sun to encourage male participation, noting the ultimate point of the tournament was to select an all-girls’ Queensland side.
‘This comp isn’t about the shield at the end. You have all lost the view of what it’s for. All the whinging is coming from bad losers,’ one person commented.
‘Let’s judge the decision in 12 months’ time and see how many boys and men’s teams we have – because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it,’ Netball Queensland CEO Catherine Clark said.