An Australian netball association has hit out at the actions of some fans after a boys team, the Queensland Suns, received a torrent of abuse after beating several female rivals to win the under-18 state title.
The coach of the Queensland Suns, Tammy Holcroft, revealed to Australian media in the aftermath of the team’s success in the state championship that several “vulgar comments” had been made towards the team after they stormed to victory by a margin of 46-12 in last weekend’s final, and comes after the team was granted entry to the competition after taking part in exhibition games the year prior.
“They were offered opportunity to progress into competitive status,” Netball Queensland high performance director Demelza Fellowes said.
“They had a fantastic tournament and played really well. So did all of the teams. Ultimately, they made it through to the finals and were really successful.
“They were very strong, which is fantastic.”
— QLD Suns Men’s & Mixed Netball (@QLDSuns) September 23, 2021
However, Fellowes also noted that the all-boys team’s inclusion in the tournament had “caused a bit of division“, but she argued that the move was in line with the sport’s pursuit of inclusion and said that their participation will ultimately lead to more men and boys taking up the sport.
“We focused more around them having the opportunity to progress and grow and develop, and also for our female teams, or the other teams in the tournament, to go and progress and have that challenge as well, and put the best foot forward in our high performance pathway,” she said.
“Netball Queensland is really proud of and driven by our strategic direction of inclusivity and providing an opportunity for anyone to belong and experience and play and love our game.
“Inclusion is a huge value for us. This was just an opportunity and platform for the men and boys to continue to grow and continue to love and explore our game.”
However, this wasn’t a unanimous reaction. Several fans online railed against the move to have boys compete against girls, prompting Netball Queensland to issue a statement in which they said that they were “extremely disappointed” at the reaction.
“We want to make clear that there is a place for everyone in our sport,” they said, adding that they “won’t tolerate vilification or abuse in any form in our game.”
“We stand by the decision to choose inclusion over exclusion.”
The statement also affirmed that “change is sometimes uncomfortable” but said that it was “imperative” that men and boys be given a platform to compete “because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it“.
Also on rt.com
The move comes at a time when the issue of gender in sport has become a hot topic, partly due to several instances of trans athletes competing against women in various sports, such as that of Laurel Hubbard – who was born male – competing against women in recent Olympic weightlifting competition.
They didn't realize that beforehand? It does suck when biological reality smacks you in the face.
— The Southern Lady (@SouthernGothic3) September 23, 2021
Lesson learnt, welcome to reality young women.
— Lottie (@hotrats60) September 23, 2021
Equality is great, until it isn’t. I’ll just leave this here. Queensland netball state championships: Uproar as all-boys team beats girls https://t.co/sB3nQaRVv3 via @newscomauHQ #equality #doublestandards
— Mitchell Davison (@mitche11D) September 22, 2021
“Equality is great, until it isn’t,” responded one fan online.
“They didn’t realize that beforehand?” wrote another. “It does suck when biological reality smacks you in the face.”
“Lesson learnt, welcome to reality young women,” added another.