Keneally's write move for parity
CEO of Basketball Australia Kristina Keneally. Photo: Robert Cianflone
Basketball Australia boss Kristina Keneally will write to every WNBL player to clarify a battle plan to grow the league after meeting with the Australian Women's Basketball Players' Association on Thursday.
A survey will also be distributed among the players from next week, where they will get the chance to express concerns or queries.
Negotiations between the players' association and Basketball Australia have ramped up after explosive comments from senior players, including Jess Bibby, and Kristi Harrower in The Canberra Times. The players expressed a belief the governing body favoured NBL over WNBL, particularly in regards to promotion and travel arrangements.
But players' association general manager Sharin Milner said she was pleased with the progress made in last week's meeting. Key topics discussed included WNBL players' lack of access to Virgin Velocity lounges, a standard luxury in the NBL.
Bendigo skipper Kristi Harrower and Bulleen star Alice Kunek represented the players at the meeting, where clarification on Basketball Australia's ongoing restructuring was also discussed.
''We were keen to make a statement to our members as to why or why not Velocity lounge wasn't going to go ahead, the discussions confirmed it was a decision by the airline and part of their agreement, but that agreement is being reviewed,'' Milner said on Sunday.
''The discussions for an airline partner commence in the next month, they're hoping to see some more equality in that area under the new agreement.
''Kristina inherited a lot of things which were already in place, they're things that aren't in her core values, to have things that don't display equality between the two leagues.
''She's really keen for the survey, which we'll do in the next couple of weeks, and she said forthright if that came up again as one of the big issues, they'll make it a priority when looking at an airline partner.
''She's composed a letter personally addressed to each player which I think's fantastic, as far as the WNBL is concerned that's quite groundbreaking. We're excited by that and it reinforces what we're trying to build and convey to the girls, that they are an important asset.''
The main issue that arose out of the last players' survey, completed a year ago, was the lack of a dedicated general manger for the WNBL. But Milner said they were reassured by Basketball Australia that it had allocated more resources to the league.
''A lot of that was explained at length. With the restructuring there's six or seven staff members now whose roles included the WNBL, instead of maybe two or three 12 months ago,'' Milner said.
''That was fantastic, and Kristina is going to document that to us to distribute to the girls so they can actually see that.
''They explained for the first time how the revenue stream works with the WNBL, they can't take dollars out of other budgets to fund things.
''Once they get that revenue stream, they assured us the results of the players' survey will be taken into account in terms of expenditure.''
Avenues to better utilise the players to promote the league were also discussed, as well as ways to make the product attractive to sponsors.
''We talked a lot about how they can use players to increase their profile, which will probably attract interest from small or medium businesses,'' Milner said.
''We implored BA to seek out sponsorships which will help girls, as well as the league, to create that profile.
''Talent-wise there's not much in it between the WNBL and netball [ANZ Championship] but the way their products are presented is vastly different.
''We acknowledged ours wouldn't be the easiest league to sell to a sponsor when choosing between netball and basketball, they get on [commercial] TV and all the venues are consistent.
''That's what we're striving towards, and Kristina's been around business long enough to seek out best practice and I'm sure she'd talk to netball to see what they did and try and emulate some of those things.''