Northern Rays to miss next round of state competition
THE Northern Rays will not compete in the next round of the Sapphire Series while the team resolves its finance issues, however it has not been booted from the competition.
Netball Queensland CEO Catherine Clark said pausing the team's season briefly was unavoidable but stressed this week's action did not mean the end of the season for the North Queensland team.
"It is disappointing and we feel for the Northern Rays players and everyone connected with the team," she said.
"The Rays have struggled to find the sponsorship levels they need so we are continuing to support the Rays as they explore a range of options that could bring them back into the competition.
"Ideally, we want the Rays to find a solution that keeps them in the HART Sapphire Series for the next three years.
"Working from week to week is not a sustainable option. It's unfair to the playing group and coaching staff."
Netball Queensland High Performance and Sports Entertainment general manager Richard McInnes said he was confident of finding a viable solution for the team.
"I've been in North Queensland meeting with potential sponsors. There is a compelling case for partnering with our athletes that delivers tangible benefits to partners," he said.
The Northern Rays were scheduled to play the Bond University Bull Sharks next Sunday.
No decision has been made on Round 7 yet.
Meantime on Saturday, the Townsville community walked in solidarity with the Northern Rays netball team as they fight to remain in the state competition, amid a financial battle.
Fans and players from Rays and their opposing team the USC Thunder walked from the carpark through the doors of the Townsville Stadium ahead of what could have been the club's final Sapphire Series game.
The team is in desperate search of sponsorship to remain in the state competition.
Rays coach Jillian Joyce said it was a representation of the support they had received online.
"To see it actually physically there, to have that walking behind us as we entered the stadium was just amazing," she said.
"Not just the netball community, but the whole community has got behind us. For the community to do that for us, really showed the physical support.
"No matter what happens from here, we know the community believes in netball in the region."
Dana Kern and her daughters Heidi, 11 and Taylah, 8, participated in the march and were big fans of the club.
She said the financial battle was "unfortunate".
"I think, though, because we are from Townsville and Townsville people support everyone, we support each other. and these guys will be back on their feet in no time.
Ms Kern said it was important the club remained for the future stars.
"It gives the kids an opportunity to aim high, aim to become a (Northern) Ray, aim to become a Steelcat, aim to become a (Australian Netball) Diamond," she said.