International sports stars around the globe have become accustomed to performing in front of empty stands but for top netballers in country Victoria, it’s still an unusual experience.
- The Ballarat league’s first netball live stream attracted about 400 more views than the football broadcast did
- An A-Grade netball coach says it was a step forward for gender equity in community sport
- The league says it will continue streaming games
When Sebastopol and Melton South players stepped onto a spectator-free court days before Victoria found itself back in lockdown they had one of the biggest audiences of any community sporting event across the state that weekend.
An online stream of the game – the Ballarat Football Netball League’s (BFNL) first ever live broadcast of senior netball – recorded 2,100 views.
Down the road, a senior football match between East Point and Redan was also being streamed to an audience of about 1,700.
“It shows that netball’s profile is building,” Sebastopol’s playing coach Georgia Cann said.
An audience from afar
Cann said the live stream allowed her relatives in Melbourne to watch her play.
“Several girls in the team had a lot of their family members watching too,” she said.
But the real triumph was in the viewing figures.
“There is obviously a long way to go to make things equal, especially the way things work at football and netball clubs,” Cann said.
“We’re really lucky at [Sebastopol] that football and netball are seen as equal and even, but I know in other clubs that’s not necessarily the case.
More action after the break
Community sport in Victoria is on hold again but before the sixth lockdown was announced the BFNL committed to live streaming netball for the rest of the seaso, including the finals.
“We knew there was an appetite for it and it hasn’t been done, certainly in regional leagues, before,” operations manager Shane Anwyl said.
“We livestream football, so we should be doing netball as well.”