• Rosie, Heidi and Miller in their new uniforms (Clare Rawlinson/ABC Local) (ABC Local)Source: ABC Local
What do you do if wearing a netball dress makes you uncomfortable? Get a new shorts-and-singlet uniform approved.
Rachel de Bear

14 Mar 2016 - 7:30 AM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2016 - 7:30 AM

That's what the Brunswick Birdies' under 13 team did in a Victorian netball first after a player refused to don a dress.

The team's coach and a Brunswick Birdie mum conspired a new uniform design after 11-year-old Heidi said she'd rather not play if moving into the under 13 competition meant wearing a dress.

"Most of the team have really been looking forward to graduating into the very professional netball dresses," said mother Paula Thomson.

"But when we talked to the kids about uniforms last year, Heidi pointed out that if she had to wear a dress she would prefer not to play netball.

"So the coach and I had a few quick phone calls and decided, 'hey, hang on, if the kids don't all see that as a great progression then it might be a compromise for some of them'," she said. 

They successfully sought approval from Victoria's biggest netball league, the Parkville Netball Competition. At the team's first training session last week, Heidi said wearing the new shorts-and-singlet combo made her more comfortable on the courts.

"I don't ever wear dresses and I felt that if I had to play netball in a dress then it wouldn't really be me — it makes me feel uncomfortable and girly," she said.

Team-mate Miller, 11, said she didn't care if only three in the team chose the new uniform.

"It doesn't matter if you stand out as long as you're comfortable about what you're wearing and what you're doing," she said.  

"Girls have the right to be able to wear shorts and a singlet, not just a dress." 

Netball Victoria also welcomed the move and plans to use Brunswick Birdie's uniform as a case study to encourage broader change among other netball clubs.

"We think it's a great initiative. We know body image is a big thing for girls so they should feel comfortable," said Netball Victoria's participation manager Stacey O'Neill.

"I think there are certainly some more traditional people who will have to have their opinion changed, but we're moving with the times and netball is certainly not as traditional as it used to be.

 "It's really about participation and young kids being active. We want all children to feel comfortable in what they're wearing," O'Neill said.

Thomson said it was worth chasing this outcome for the team.

"You can hear when these amazing, little, independent women talk about wanting to feel themselves...as parents of kids this age..those things are worth fighting for..(to) keep kids in sport."