Netball Australia wins widespread praise after groundbreaking uniform change

Players are now allowed to wear shorts and pants instead of the traditional dress or skirt.

Netball players, pictured here showcasing the new uniform choices in the Team Girls Cup.
Netball players showcased the new uniform choices in the Team Girls Cup on Friday night. Image: Getty

Netball Australia has been commended by fans and commentators after players wore new 'inclusive' uniforms for the first time in the Team Girls Cup. The pre-season tournament kicked off on Friday night, with the Adelaide Thunderbirds taking on the Queensland Firebirds, the Sunshine Coast Lightning against the Collingwood Magpies, the Melbourne Vixens against the Giants and the NSW Swifts battling the West Coast Fever.

Traditionally, female netball players have either worn a dress or skirt at the elite level. However Friday night's matches showcased the new 'inclusive' uniforms, which give players the choice to wear shorts or leggings instead of a dress or skirt.

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Players also don't have to match what their teammates are wearing, with a number opting for shorts or pants, and others sticking with the dress or skirt. Netball Australia announced the new policy in December, but Friday night marked the first time the shorts and pants were seen in action in elite Aussie netball.

The governing body said the new guidelines around playing uniforms would "recognise the various individual preferences and religious beliefs of netballers". Glenn Turnor, Netball Australia's executive general manager for strategy, government and community said last year: "Netball is ever-evolving, and we need to reflect this in all aspects of our game, including uniform choices. We are excited to implement these inclusive uniform guidelines going into 2023 and ensure that everyone can feel comfortable playing netball."

Queensland Firebirds player Ashlee Unie said last week: “We've got a responsibility to showcase where we want this sport to go. Seeing the elite level proudly wearing whatever they feel comfortable in will hopefully inspire young people.”

Netball players, pictured here in the Team Girls Cup.
Some players wore shorts, while others stuck with the traditional dress. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Netball Australia wins praise for new uniform policy

The move came after Wimbledon also diverted away from traditional dress codes in 2022. Female players have been forced to wear all-white outfits in the past (including underwear), but organisers at the All England Club scrapped the rule due to athletes expressing concerns about how wearing white affected them while menstruating.

The AFLW has also moved away from wearing white shorts for similar reasons, with the changes sparking better outcomes for female athletes. Jennie French, who is Operations manager for the AFL Wimmera Mallee and Horsham District, told the ABC last year: "We've seen people return to netball that had stopped playing because they weren't comfortable.

"Numbers were declining in a lot of places, but this change has seen the return of some players to the region, which has been fantastic. It's given people the confidence to play in what they're comfortable in."

Casey Adamson, pictured here in action for the Magpies against the Lightning in the Team Girls Cup.
Casey Adamson in action for the Magpies against the Lightning in the Team Girls Cup. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Meanwhile, the Swifts kicked off the Team Girls Cup with a 41-37 win over the Fever, before the Vixens took down the Giants 47-40. The Lightning and Magpies then played out a thrilling draw after a super shot on the siren from Shimona Nelson knotted the score at 38-38. The Thunderbirds then closed out the first round of the pre-season cup with a 51-33 victory over the Firebirds.

Fans have flocked to social media in recent days to praise the new uniform policy.

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