Caribbean netball stars to benefit from COVID-19 pay agreement

Sunshine Girls

CANBERRA, Australia — Caribbean stars such as Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Triniadian Samantha Wallace, who compete in the Suncorp Super Netball League, will benefit from a decision by netball authorities to extend the Government’s JobKeeper Payment to international players.

The Australian Government recently instituted a AUS$1,500 fortnightly payment for eligible employers to help insulate themselves from the disruption in business caused from the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While international stars would not be normally eligible for the payment, the league and the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) recently agreed to extend the benefit to the foreign players to keep them on the same level as their domestic counterparts during the ongoing crisis.

The fourth edition of the league, Australia’s premier professional netball competition, was supposed to get underway May 3 but the COVID-19 outbreak forced organisers to delay the start until June 30.

“It really is a credit to our sport how well all parties have approached these discussions,” league chief executive, Chris Symington said.

“It’s not an easy time for anyone and I’m proud of our clubs’ and playing groups’ maturity and willingness to ensure the league will survive and bounce back strong.

“This player payment model, made possible by the Morrison Government JobKeeper package, will see all athletes considerably better off than what they are within the current COVID- 19-impacted payment structure, and further discussions with the clubs and ANPA will continue to take place as the COVID-19 situation progresses.”

The league had announced last month that players would take a two-week break from March 30 before being placed on “active rest” for seven hours each week for the three weeks following, while having their pay reduced by 70 per cent.

However, organisers have since agreed that until May 31, contracted players will benefit from the JokKeeper Payment while players earning in excess of $78,000 annually will be paid at 50 per cent of their contract.

Most of the players in the league currently make less than $78,000 per year but now stand to earn more than 50 per cent of their normal salary. Additionally, players’ hours have been increased from seven to 12 hours per week.

Jamaican stars Shamera Sterling, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Jodi-Ann Ward, Romelda Aiken and Shimona Nelson all currently campaign in the league.

The 26-year-old Wallace was voted Most Valuable Player in last season’s grand final when her New South Wales Swifts defeated Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Australia is currently under a lockdown in its fight against the coronavirus which has already caused 6, 720 infections and 83 deaths.