Netball’s Indigenous Round debacle put to rest

The Queensland Firebirds have ensured there’d be no repeat of last year’s Indigenous Round debacle, with Jemma Mi Mi playing 48 minutes in the last-gasp loss to Melbourne Vixens.

Mi Mi made unwanted headlines last season, when, as the only Indigenous player in the Super Netball competition, she was left on the bench for the entirety of the Firebirds’ Indigenous Round match.

The Firebirds acknowledged they had “misread community expectations” by leaving Mi Mi on the bench.

The subsequent outcry resulted in a groundbreaking ‘declaration of commitment’ to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, coaches, umpires and administrators from Netball Australia.

“I think in the past we’ve accidentally seen having Jem in our team as a badge of honour,” said captain Gabi Simpson, following Melbourne’s 66-64 win.

“And I think it’s really changed too, it’s a real responsibility for us as a team to not only help share the messages that Jemma’s been sharing with us but as a group to keep projecting the change that we want to see and be allies.”

Mi Mi said the experience of Indigenous Round is one she’ll never forget.

“It felt surreal, I just love playing at home,” Mi Mi said.

“For it to be Indigenous Round, to have my family up in the stands and to see all the girls wear the dress so proudly and, really embrace this round and our coaches too. It felt amazing.

“My family have been checking on me this week and my focus on being a role model has helped balance the media side too. This week, the crowd were incredible, they really rode the game with us.”

With the scores level, debutant Rahni Samason nailed a two-point shot after the final buzzer to give Melbourne their first victory of the year.

The 23-year-old made 27 of her 29 shots, for a return of 35 points, making eight of 10 from two-point range.

Simpson was left to lament a match that slipped through their fingers.

“We just didn’t play the moments as we brought the ball through the court in attack,” she said.

“I think it’s our understanding of the clock. When we can’t talk to each other – and the crowd was just incredible, so we weren’t able to communicate with each other and have that understanding for those moments.”

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

pin up