Netball Australia appoints legend of game Liz Ellis as board director

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Liz Ellis AO has joined the Netball Australia board as a director for 12 months.
Liz Ellis AO has joined the Netball Australia board as a director for 12 months. Credit: JASON O'BRIEN/AAPIMAGE

Legend of the sport, Liz Ellis AO, has joined the Netball Australia board as a director, a move that fans have welcomed with open arms after a tumultuous period for the code’s leadership.

Netball Australia announced Ellis’ appointment to the board on Monday afternoon, with chair Wendy Archer AM saying it was an “exciting time” for the sport as it looks to grow into the game’s 100th anniversary.

“Like all members of the Board, Liz is passionate about netball, both on court and off and brings significant leadership skills as well as a breadth of knowledge gained from her post-career roles in broadcast and business,’’ Ms Archer said.

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The announcement was met with raucous approval from the netball community, with most fans saying it was “about time” that Ellis joined the sport’s governing body.

“I couldn’t be more delighted to see this news,” wrote journalist Megan Maurice.

“Liz isn’t just a legend of our sport, she is someone with a vision and a desire to make positive change. I can’t wait to see what she achieves.”

Ellis is one of the most revered names in netball, both in Australia and abroad.

She is our country’s most-capped Diamond with 122 matches after 15 years in the national team, four of them as captain.

Her impact in netball and on the Diamonds was so massive, that the national teams’ annual MVP award is named in her honour.

Off the court, Ellis has served on the boards of the Australian Sports Commission, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney Olympic Park Authority and Players Voice.

She also led the watershed State of the Game Review in 2020, which assessed where netball was at and made a number of recommendations to help it maintain and grow its status as the number one sport for women and Girls in Australia.

In recent years, Ellis has been an outspoken critic of Netball Australia for its handling of a rolling stream of off-court dramas — including its “callous disregard” for player welfare during the lengthy and noxious pay dispute.

Calls for the netball legend to join the board have become deafening since 2022, since Netball Australia knocked back a joined private equity bid which Ellis was part of, to buy out the Super Netball franchise.

Netball Australia drew even more ire when it knocked back Ellis’ request to join the board in 2023 as it reappointed some of its existing directors and floundered in a mess of its own making.

Speaking to ABC Sport about her new appointment, Ellis said she believes now is the right time — three years from commentating a game, and almost a decade since playing — to “get in and contribute in my areas of knowledge and expertise”.

“You should never waste a crisis and the sport has seen a series of crises over the past 12 months, but it’s actually created an opportunity for some meaningful conversations to happen,” she said.

Privatisation and the commercial viability of the Super Netball league are high on her priorities list, especially as talks begin between Australia and New Zealand about a potential Trans-Tasman merger beyond 2026, and as Sydney prepares to host the 2027 Netball World Cup, which will mark netball’s centenary.

She also said she will seek to revisit some recommendations of the State of the Game Review, especially about fostering relationships with outside stakeholders

But, Ellis said, she knows she cannot rush change or any fixes for her beloved sport.

“I think my biggest challenge will be to not be impatient because I just want the best for the sport.”

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