As the sponsor crisis takes a dramatic turn, Netball Australia is given a $15 million lifeline.

Netball Australia has secured a $15 million sponsorship contract with Visit Victoria, only days after Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting abruptly ended a $15 million sponsorship agreement with the sport as a product of a severe and public falling out.

Prior to Sunday night’s 2-0 series victory against the England Roses, originally reported that Diamonds players had expressed grave worries over the late mining company’s founder Lang Hancock’s severely racist remarks. Hancock advocated for the sterilization of Australia’s First Nations people among other things.

He claimed this in the 1980s: “The issue would be resolved if I doped the water to make them sterile and breed themselves extinct in the future. The majority of the problems are caused by the half-castes, who are bad to themselves and can’t accept things.”

Gina Rinehart, the billionaire owner of Hancock, tore up the company’s sponsorship agreements with Netball Australia, Netball WA, and Super Netball champions West Coast Fever. Gina Rinehart has never publicly responded to her father’s remarks.

With a game-winning stroke at the buzzer against England in the series opener, Donnell Wallam last Thursday became just the third Indigenous player to represent the Diamonds after Sharon Finnan-White and Marcia Ella-Duncan. Wallam had privately expressed her worries over Hancock’s past with Netball Australia and her colleagues, requesting to be excused from donning the Hancock emblem.

The plea, which had the full backing of her teammates, was turned down by Netball Australia, however Wallam is said to have been eager to change her mind following a public uproar.

The Diamonds will now be sponsored by Visit Victoria on a term that runs through 2027, two more years than the previous Hancock pact, giving the cash-strapped Netball Australia a much-needed lifeline.

The agreement calls for the Diamonds to play at least one test match in the state each year for five years starting in 2023. Additionally, the Diamonds will undertake training camps in Victoria and participate in advertising initiatives for the city.

The Super Netball Grand Final will once again be played in Victoria after being held in Perth this year when Western Australia purchased the hosting rights. This was the first time the match’s venue was up for sale rather than determined by the outcomes of the league.

Following Hancock’s shocking decision to break up the sponsorship deal, Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said a number of prospective partners had been in touch.

The sponsorship agreement with Visit Victoria, according to Ryan, was “very different” from past sponsorships with mining companies and “unlike any that we’ve done previously.” She went on to say that these two unions “cannot be compared in any way, shape, or form because they are two very, very different unions.

The information we provide, including everything from pathway events to the top competition, is valued by this collaboration. Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, called it a “coup” for the state.

“We are the country’s national sports and major event capital… He continued, “It’s great that we can have the finest netball team anywhere in the world wear our insignia and reflect everything that we have to give to the rest of the country and the world.”

“This is a huge collaboration for the Origin Australian Diamonds as we prepare to defend our Commonwealth Games gold medal in Victoria in 2026,” Diamonds captain Liz Watson said in a release.

Visit Victoria is a passionate supporter of netball and believes that this funding will help the sport at all levels.

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