“The clubs did contact me and they did apologise … but sometimes I wonder if that were to happen to me now, would they [my teammates] stand up for me?”
Aiken said she was also disappointed she had to approach teammates to speak up about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I said to them, ‘I’m hurting why isn’t anyone speaking up about it? Who is going to take that first step to start the conversation?’ ” she said. “When everything was happening with the bushfires … everyone was quick to act on it, but this is someone’s life. How come we aren’t talking about it, how come it’s not a bigger issue?”
In the US, the NBA and the WNBA have led sports’ charge in support of the movement. They plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” on courts when the season resumes.
Basketball Australia has followed suit, with the Opals announcing they would not train until the code committed to eliminating racial injustice. Aiken told the Herald she would make a request to Netball Australia and the Firebirds to make a similar gesture before the season start on August 1.
She hopes players will be able to wear an Aboriginal flag on their jerseys throughout the season, instead of just during the code’s Indigenous round.
“I don’t know if I’ll go as far as taking a knee,” she said. “It’s something I am happy to bring to the table and see if anything can be done regarding that … I definitely will be asking the question.”
The Melbourne Vixens were the first club to post its support of the BLM movement. Aiken said players of colour had to approach various executives within the clubs and Super Netball to push them to make a public statement.
“I thought ‘hang on, why aren’t all the clubs posting something’ and then I saw the Opals and then I saw the national basketballers here posting about it and I thought, ‘what happened to netball?’ I thought netball was a family sport,” she said. “As an organisation, Super Netball should have been the first one to come out.”
Super Netball players will head to a Queensland hub over the next month.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.