Netball Australia has been rocked by Nareen Young’s explosive racism allegations amid the sponsorship furore

Netball Australia’s hell week continued on Wednesday night when a former board member went public with explosive allegations of having experienced racism in his capacity.

Nareen Young, one of the country’s leading practitioners of diversity in the workplace as associate dean for Indigenous Leadership and Engagement at the University of Technology Sydney Business School, told ABC she believes racism exists “at every level” of sport.

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The allegations from the former chief executive, who served between 2013 and 2015, are another dagger in the wounded heart of Netball Australia, which is already reeling after the governing body and its players were already at an impasse over a controversial sponsorship lifeline handed to them stuck by Hancock prospecting.

Players have sided with Indigenous player Donnell Wallam, who is culturally and ethically uncomfortable wearing the trademark of Gina Rinehart’s mining company – a move Young said she was “really proud of”.

“I think it’s really interesting that this issue comes from them as a women’s sport and an Indigenous player raised an issue and her teammates fall after her,” she said.

In a segment discussing the sponsorship issue on ABC’s The Drum, Young said racism has been “normalized” in esports.

“My observation and experience over many years is that there is quite a lot of racism in netball at all levels, including the board of directors,” she said.

“One example I can give is about racism, how it has been perceived and how it has been normalised.

Nareen Young experienced racism while serving on the board of Netball Australia. Recognition: Getty/ABC

“At one of my first meetings, they talked about One Netball – their diversity program and how proud they were of it.

“Indigenous players make up so many local carnivals, then a promotional video about netball was shot and released and it was just all these blonde people.

“I don’t think there’s an acknowledgment that it manifests in every single thing that’s done.

“I’ve been told some things by other board members that would knock your socks off – not at a board meeting, after a meeting – and at that moment I was like, ‘No point (challenging them)’.

“I went back and spoke to very high-level black netball players and said it looks like it’s at the local comp level and they said absolutely.”

Nareen Young believes racism exists at all levels of Australian netball. Recognition: Mark tantrum/Getty Images

Netball Australia responded to the allegations in a statement to News Corp.

“Netball Australia was unaware of these allegations but takes any allegations of racism extremely seriously,” the statement said.

“In 2020, a coalition of leading netball organizations signed a pledge pledging to take significant action to break down the barriers preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, coaches, umpires and administrators from doing so have to be successful in this sport.

“Netball Australia has made a public commitment to listen, learn and change by engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and hearing about their experiences of netball.

“This incredibly important work continues and we welcome the opportunity to better understand these allegations.”

Multi-million dollar sponsorship caters to netball and cricket.

Multi-million dollar sponsorship caters to netball and cricket. Netball Australia has been rocked by Nareen Young’s explosive racism allegations amid the sponsorship furore

James Brien

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