The Collingwood Magpies regrouped to deliver a near victory against a resurgent Sunshine Coast Lightning with captain Geva Mentor, pleading that “common sense prevails” after the club was confirmed to be defunct this week.
Speaking to the media ahead of the match, netball and AFLW legend Ash Brazill, who announced his retirement earlier this season, said she was struggling to find the words to comfort her teammates.
Jamaican Shimona Nelson, for example, could soon find herself with visa problems.
The Magpies trailed the Lightning by just four points, days after the AFL powerhouse confirmed they would withdraw from Super Netball competition.
After the match, Mentor implored the organizers to sort out the situation, as there are literally “lives at stake”.
The dejected Collingwood players, pictured after the team’s loss to the Lightning on Saturday, were left to pick up the pieces after the club pulled out of Super Netball
Magpies players such as Shimona Nelson (left, pictured with fellow Jamaican players (L-R) Latanya Wilson, Magpies’ Jodi-Ann Ward and Shamera Sterling) could face visa issues after the club’s demise
“I want common sense to prevail. I want everyone to walk into a room and put their ego aside and get rid of it,’ she said.
“There are lives at stake now. These are people who have to pay mortgages, who do not know where their next income will come from. We have a lot of people who will be unemployed.
According to Mentor, potential visa issues for foreign stars were incredibly difficult for players to deal with.
“It’s so difficult for international players who have a visa tied to where they play,” she said.
‘So what are they going to do now? They have to uproot themselves when they have just been able to settle here for three or four years. It’s really tricky.
Magpies skipper Geva Mentor (left, pictured competing with Donnell Wallam earlier this season) implored organizers to sort out the situation because ‘there are lives at stake’
The loss was just a mere accident in the script of Collingwood’s tumultuous season.
In the opening game of the First Nations round, the Magpies started strong, leading by seven at halftime. But their consistency crumbled as it had for much of the season, with the lead evaporating in third.
Lightning exploited this while applying a vice-like defense and more orderly offense, taking a three-goal lead into the final break.
Collingwood found their fight and managed to bring the match level with less than two minutes left. However, MVP of the game, Steph Wood delivered a supershot giving the home side some breathing room.
Diamond Sophie Garbin had the right of reply on the other end, but threw an airball instead, as her tearful coach Nicole Richardson looked on.
Lightning was able to close out the game with a four-goal victory: their second in nine rounds.
Magpies legend Ash Brazill passes in the club’s heartbreaking four-point loss to the Sunshine Coast on Saturday
As dramatic as the see-saw nature of the game was, it was nothing compared to the off-pitch storyline that unfolded this week.
Collingwood announced that it would not be renewing its Super Netball license at the end of the season.
To complicate matters, Super Netball’s broadcast deal is based on eight-club competition, which means that until a new holder is found, all 80 athletes, their coaches and support staff find themselves in uncertainty.
With their careers on the line, many Magpies athletes have put on performances worthy of Hollywood’s top casting agent, all in hopes of catching the eye of whoever the new Super Netball coach is.
Some athletes, like Diamond Garbin, are almost certain to find new contracts, but others, like Molly Jovic, will be doubtful for the next few months.
However, in his 50th domestic league game, Jovic more than proved his qualities, conceding three turnovers and picking up one interception.
If one positive point emerges from this licensing saga, it is the camaraderie between the players.
During the two-hour game, Lightning and Magpies were competitors, but after the final whistle, they regrouped to warm up, interact with the fans, and then share a meal.
There will be difficult and uncertain times for Magpies players in the weeks and months to come following the club’s withdrawal from Super Netball
After the game, Sunshine Coast and Collingwood players came together in solidarity
That community spirit is something Mentor pointed to as one of the “big things” to come out of this whole mess.
“As soon as the news broke, netball as a community put its arms around us. We really felt that love from all the other franchises, CEOs, players and even from abroad. It’s a beautiful thing about sports,” she said.
Time is not on Netball Australia’s side.
There are strong arguments as to why they need to lock down a licensee sooner rather than later: stalled CPA and TPA negotiations, the threat of losing talent to other competitions whose signing windows are closing soon and, of course, of course, the Netball World Cup.
The latter is arguably the most pressing because it’s a competition where we don’t want athletes with shared goals.
And while CEO Kelly Ryan has said he will seek to sign the new club as soon as possible, it could be argued that a July deadline should apply.