THE Queensland Firebirds will showcase official apparel partner, Valour Sport, and their range of inclusive netball uniforms on the elite stage at this week’s Suncorp Team Girls Cup on the Gold Coast.
Firebirds’ players will wear their choice of uniform throughout the three-day competition, showcasing the options available to athletes under Netball Queensland’s Inclusive Uniform Policy.
Experienced mid-courter Gabi Simpson, who has chosen to wear a singlet and skort on court, believes it is a great step forward for netball to offer a variety of uniform options.
“I’ve chosen the lovely skort and singlet because it’s very comfy,” Simpson said.
“It’s very similar to the sizes and the coverage that I would usually wear in my everyday life and I feel good while I’m playing in it.
“Netball is a sport for everyone and what we’ve found in the past is that uniform actually does prevent some people from attending and playing and we want to get rid of those barriers.
“Allowing people to feel comfortable, wear what they want to suit their beliefs or who they are, that’s so important because netball is a space where we want people to be the freest version of themselves.”
As well as skorts and singlets, players can choose to wear a variety of options on court including the traditional dress, shorts, long or short-sleeved T-shirts, long pants or leggings.
The Firebirds’ range has been developed by official apparel provider Valour Sport, whose ONE TEAM range is designed with different comfort, modesty, and cultural sensitivities in mind for a more inclusive approach to sports apparel.
“The development of our ONE TEAM range had two key elements that ensured its success,” Valour Sports Director Matthew Knight said.
“First, we designed a selection of apparel that respected and celebrated the diversity of gender, race, ability, body shape/size and identity while still adhering to school, club, association or national competition regulations.
“Valour’s ONE TEAM range allows individuals to express their true selves without fear of discrimination or judgment while maintaining an appearance of unity as a team.
“Additionally, we also worked hard to remove any barriers that may have previously prevented people from playing in or returning to sports – something which we believe has been achieved through our efforts.”
Firebirds’ recruit Ash Unie hoped fans and young athletes watching this week’s action will be inspired to find the uniform combination that suits them best when they take the court in their own competitions.
“We've got a responsibility as leaders in the sport to showcase where we want this sport to go, and to see girls at the elite level proudly wearing whatever they feel comfortable in hopefully inspires young people out there to get involved in sport, even if they haven't been drawn to the typical image of netball,” Unie said.
“It's disheartening to think that we’d lose people from the sport because we're not creating an environment where they feel comfortable.
“Hopefully something as simple as the length of the dress or sleeves or more modest clothing can open the doors for this wonderful sport to more people.”
Netball Queensland General Manager Glenn Dennis welcomed the Firebirds’ decision to adopt inclusive uniforms for the Suncorp Team Girls Cup, adding it could only raise awareness of the options now available at all levels.
“It’s a really brave decision for a professional sporting team to so willingly embrace inclusion,” Dennis said.
“To have Firebirds players wear an inclusive uniform at the highest levels of the sport signals to our community that everyone is welcome in netball and that inclusive uniforms are a viable option for all clubs from the grassroots to elite.
“A more inclusive sport means a healthier and more vibrant sport and I am confident that the introduction of NQ’s Inclusive Uniform Policy will help to ensure that potential stars of the future won’t be lost to netball because the uniform options are too restrictive.”
The Firebirds begin their Suncorp Team Girls Cup campaign against the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Friday, 24 February at 7pm at the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre.
They’ll then face the GWS Giants and Melbourne Vixens in two matches at the same venue on Saturday, 25 February with the competition concluding with finals matches on Sunday, 26 February.
Tickets are available for purchase via Ticketek.
To learn more about Valour Sport’s ONE TEAM Initiative and find out how your team can build an inclusive uniform visit https://www.valoursport.com.au/pages/one-team-initiative.