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Exclusive: Melbourne Vixens CEO On Hosting Super Netball League

I
n an exclusive interview, Netball Victoria and Melbourne Vixens CEO, Rosie King, spoke to Ministry of Sport about the organisation hosting the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, the entire league was forced into a short-term Victorian hub for a period of two weeks, with the league’s NSW based clubs still remaining in Melbourne up until the majority of the league was relocated to Adelaide this week.

Comparing the hosting to the 2020 season, which was held primarily in Queensland and hosted by Sunshine Coast Lightning and Netball Queensland, King said it was seen as opportunity to repay the support of the Queensland based clubs.

“[In 2020] the league managed to secure some funding from Sunshine Coast Council for a hub there and we were thrilled because the relationship Lightning have with the university (USC) is really strong and collaborative,” King told Ministry of Sport.

“As a result, Lightning were magnificent hosts under [CEO] Danielle Smith’s leadership, and they really went out of their way to look after us.

“We had access to the gym, the court, the track and recovery areas at the University of Sunshine Coast.

“Netball is a very collaborative sport off-court, but we’re very competitive on the court, and that typifies the support we received on the Sunshine Coast compared to the competitive on-court performances,” she said.

On the short hub in Victoria in the 2021 season, King said: “Who would’ve thought Victoria would be the place to be after what we went through last year.”

“Two weeks ago, we were actually planning for the entire hub to be here in Victoria, but as things are becoming more opened up, teams are naturally wanting to go home where they possibly can so they can maximise their revenues and fan engagement.

“They want to play in front of their fans and give their members and sponsors benefits and they want to maximise ticket sales and merchandise.

“What it’s looking more like is the NSW teams, Swifts and Giants, are most likely the ones that will stay here until the end of the season.

“Netball Australia and Visit Victoria are in discussions in hopes we can secure some funding to support a mini-hub, we anticipate part of the deliver from Visit Victoria will mean some of the games will be taken to other regions.

“We know how well we were cared for by Lightning and Netball Queensland last year, so we’ve actually felt we had the opportunity to repay some of the kindness and care we received.

“Some of our Vixens have taken toys and colouring books to hotels for kids of the teams travelling to Victoria from NSW and we’ve jumped in where needed.

“Our executive assistant was driving around the city the other day collecting and delivering massage beds to the hotels, and they are things we just need to do.

“One of our staff members have put together a resource on Melbourne vitals, where they can get their high-performance needs, but also things like good coffee shops and cafes near where they are staying.

“We put ourselves in their shoes and we do what we believe we would appreciate if we were in their situation.

“We’re working with the teams to get them access to our facilities at the State Netball Centre, other than those care aspects, being able to use the State Netball Centre with our new courts and a world-class high-performance team and aquatics centre.

“We’ve already hosted the Giants, Swifts, Fever, and Lightning at State Netball Centre and the feedback we’ve received is lovely and we’re very excited about it.

“When we put our business case together to have all our operations under one roof, one of the things we were really looking forward to, was enabling our netball community to be in the same space as these elite athletes.

“Community netball players are all able to watch athletes come in and train from behind the glass and the connection has been exactly what we’ve been hoping to achieve,” she said.

Reflecting on the 2020 season, in which the Vixens won the Super Netball championship without the backing of a front-of-dress sponsor, King said the Witness Fearless campaign that was born in 2020 is a strong part of the organisation, top to bottom.

“The front-of-dress sponsorship is really precious property, and to put something on it is something we thought long and hard about and worked with the athletes on, and they really loved and supported Witness Fearless,” King said.

“We believe, going forward, it’s very much what I would call a re-thread between the organisations’ activities.

“This year we’ve carried it on through the other work we’re doing, for leadership development such as coaches, umpires, and workforce.

“We’ve got Lead Fearless, we’ve got Witness Fearless, and Play Fearless, which is the community element.

“It ties all of our pathways together and connects right from grassroots through to elite.

“It was bold, but we didn’t have a key partner and we made the best of it.

“We’re not going to drop it, we love it, and it will be a key part of this year,” she told Ministry of Sport.