“The netballers went straight to a 70 per cent pay cut, they asked very little questions and just got on with it,” Akle said. “If we’re comparing codes … the guys they’re still doing really well and I understand that they’ve got mortgages to pay as well … but when you compare – our top salary is probably $100,000.
“Toughen up and see the bigger picture for what it is.”
Netball Australia and Suncorp Super Netball have stood down 50 per cent of staff and reduced the hours of remaining staff and salaries of all executive staff members until May 31.
Both Netball Australia chief executive Marne Fechner and Suncorp Super Netball chief executive Chris Symington have taken 50 per cent salary cuts. Akle herself is on heavily reduced hours for the interim amid the crisis.
“It’s quite frustrating to watch and think, ‘well yep, the netballers went straight to a 70 per cent pay cut’,” Akle said. “If you put all your eggs in one basket your sport will collapse, and I think that’s definitely something that netball hasn’t done.”
Akle has also spoken, for the first time, about her belief that the Diamonds should be put on hold for the rest of the year, as the domestic competition attempts to rebuild.
“The Diamonds can’t operate without those players being at their best in club land,” Akle said. “If we were to get netball up and running again, obviously getting Suncorp Super Netball back up is, I would think, the priority.”
The board at Netball Australia are working on a “worst-case scenario”, preparing for the code not returning in 2020. The best-case scenario is a return on May 31, which would be less than a month’s delay from the original May 2 starting date.
“I think if we can get a spotlight back on SSN with those clubs up and running, I think it’d be great to get the Australian public back in watching sport,” Akle said.
Akle said her biggest concern for the Swifts during the postponement was mental health.
“They’re used to structure and routine every day,” Akle said. “Just keeping healthy and just keeping their mindset on the bigger picture, that helps No.1, but also staying connected with them is super important for us.”
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.