Impassioned rallying cry strikes chord with netball followers

first_img Read more features Since you’re here… ‘Exciting’ scoring changes to spice up new Super Netball season Gaudion speaks directly to fans in her videos, labelling the 1.2 million Australians registered to play across Australia a “sleeping giant” with “genuine power” to shape the game. But she also highlights a problem.“The reality of the situation is this and listen very, very, very carefully; 1.2 million people play netball in our country, annually. Here’s the problem, 10% watch it on TV, only 10%. On an annual basis, 10% of our 1.2 million people that go out and play the bloody game of netball, that love the bloody game of netball, they’re the only people that turn on and watch it. So, we’ve got a problem netball, we’ve got a serious problem.“Here’s the wake-up call, netball people. You have to support the game. If you don’t turn the bloody TV on and watch it, we are going to end up with a product that looks nothing like the game,” she says. Facebook Share on Messenger Super Netball Pinterest Australia sport Share on Facebook Netball Australia chief executive Marne Fechner says the governing body didn’t know about or sanction Gaudion’s stance. “But, I think it’s fabulous,” she says. “To see the reaction, the passion, the conversation it’s sparked, is great and we’re watching with interest.“In terms of market segmentation, we do see the netball-playing population, which has a natural affinity for the game, as key. We do want to engage them, of course,” Fechner adds, while acknowledging frustration around timeslots.On the back of #wakeupnetball, Netball Australia has heard of local associations “pulling out TVs at courts”, so games can be watched, Fechner says. It’s exactly the kind of grassroots movement Gaudion seeks.Melbourne Vixens and Diamonds defender Jo Weston describes the movement as “phenomenal”, agreeing that for too long, sky-high participation levels have failed to translate into big commercial success for netball. “As Sue has indicated, if we could increase the percentage of those people who play into attending games, watching on TV and supporting the league, netball would be in such a great place,” she says. “If you care passionately about something, that will turn into action.”. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on LinkedIn Netballcenter_img Topics Sue Gaudion has a memo for the netball lovers of Australia: “Turn the bloody TV on and watch it.” Gaudion, one of the most respected names in netball, last week launched a grassroots movement – dubbed #wakeupnetball on social media – with a feisty 15-minute Facebook video streamed from her Perth home, responding to the “almighty backlash” to changes to the game at the elite level.In the video, which has nearly 90,000 views and 1,500 shares, and in another clip posted on Wednesday night, Gaudion calls on the game’s traditional base to stop whingeing about tweaks to Super Netball and instead support the league to influence the game’s future. Share on WhatsApp Gaudion says changes are only contemplated and made to drive viewership – and the rusted-on fan base is the most obvious place to find more eyeballs. She pleads with fans to channel their energy into supporting Super Netball – watching on TV or on the Netball Live app, watching replays and talking about it on social media – and bringing “their families, friends and extended circle along”.“Go out to your local netball association, your local netball clubs, your family, your friends, absolutely anybody that you know that loves netball and tell them that they have a responsibility to engage in our game and watch,” she says. She wants #wakeupnetball to act as a rallying cry for “netball people” across the country in the second round of Super Netball this weekend.If the 10% cent grows to 20%, netball won’t need to change, Gaudion says. “Netball needs to get harsher with itself. If we honestly want Channel Nine to put netball, and every single game of it, at the correct time, the 5pm and 6pm timeslots, then more people have to watch the game. It’s simple.”Gaudion says she expected her first video to reach “200 or 300 people and maybe slowly spread”, but the response has been “absolutely overwhelming.”She has worked virtually non-stop since last Thursday, spending nearly five hours after posting the video answering hundreds of questions on her Facebook page and fielding emails, calls and texts. “I haven’t had time to count up all the social media shares and tags, but the response has been mind-blowing.”But it’s not the “Gaudy show”. “Already, I am seeing a sort of community building. I’m so bloody passionate about this game, but it’s not about me. I just want netball people to wake up and embrace the power we have, to add those numbers and make a difference,” she says. Super Netball: Giants find redemption in grand final rematch with Lightning – as it happened Read more She equates “more eyeballs” watching on TV with the chance to retain netball in its current form – without major changes, such as the long-mooted two-point shot.Gaudion, who has worked as a coach and broadcaster for more than 20 years and calls Super Netball for Channel Nine, told Guardian Australia she decided “completely off her own bat” to respond to the interminable negativity she saw online, mainly about new TV timeslots.Some fans argue new times – 3pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday – present a conflict for those playing at local level and claim Nine wants to “change the game” in the pursuit of ratings. Last season, Super Netball matches attracted an average 106,000 viewers nationally, making it a niche sport at best for a commercial station.Criticism of the scheduling has reverberated through fan forums and social media channels since governing body Netball Australia announced the changes, along with a new ladder points system, a fortnight ago.Sign up to receive the latest Australian sports stories Share via Email Share on Twitter Support The Guardian Twitter Share on Pinterest Reuse this contentlast_img

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