The Queensland Firebirds issued a statement on Tuesday regarding benching Waka Waka woman Jemma Mi Mi for the Indigenous round, despite using her to promote the event and Mi Mi being the only Indigenous player in any of Super Netball’s eight teams.
Head Coach Roselee Jencke said the decision to leave Ms Mi Mi off the court was strategic.
“Our team selection for Sunday’s game was part of our strategy for the season and was made collectively by the coaches and the leadership group based on performance,” said Ms Jencke.
“The decision not to put Jemma on the court was the right one from a game strategy perspective, however we misread community expectations and the significance of Jemma’s court time in the game in this round.”
The statement has prompted further feedback from Ms Mi Mi’s supporters.
The statement goes on to detail the “powerful” contribution Ms Mi Mi makes to the Firebirds, including “cultural awareness”.
“Jemma has and continues to develop our cultural awareness and has shared with her team mates her own cultural journey as a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman,” said Ms Jencke.
Ms Mi Mi also works as a part-time co-ordinator of Netball Queensland's Diamond Spirit program, aimed at empowering Indigenous girls in remote communities through netball.
Ms Jencke goes on to ask space be given to Ms Mi Mi following the event.
“As the only Indigenous player in the Suncorp Super Netball, Jemma feels a huge responsibility. Her wellbeing is our paramount concern and we ask that she be given space to process this in her own time.”
The Firebirds will play against the Collingwood Magpies on Saturday.