By Renee Pope-Munro
At a time when more than half the nation is in lockdown and following a grueling two years of competition, it seems only fitting that the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball signing period has looked like nothing the netball community has ever seen before.
With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and every player in the league off contract, this signing period was always going to be hectic, and the approaching Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup, coupled with continued uncertainty of international movement due to COVID, only increased that expectation.
Fans however were left to ponder what the next phase of our domestic comp would look like, with relative radio silence from the SSN, clubs, and media.
A new CBA was being worked out behind the scenes and, once finalised, the rumour mill was sent into overdrive pretty quickly.
Netty fans, however, are nothing if not resourceful.
A trickle that began with a riddling tweet from intrepid The Goal Circle host Luke (@BLT_86) has since turned into a torrent of speculation, creativity, and most importantly, a buzz of excitement and anticipation.
Then the SSN clubs slowly started getting in on the action and what has followed has been a tantalisingly slow drip-feed of graphics, seven-minute-long live streams of a bowl of fruit, cryptic hints, horoscopes and silhouettes.
We got babies and game shows and an entire side dropped at once, just to keep us all on our toes.
And it has been DELICIOUS.
In a universe where female-dominated sport is rarely in the spotlight, the #SSNTrade experience has allowed fans and both new and traditional media to celebrate and speculate at every turn.
“Where is Sophie Garbin going to land?”
“Who is filling the Firebirds defensive gap?”
“Will the huge era of change at Lightning lead to new Aussie blood, or fresh internationals?”
The possibilities are endless.
We have seen rolling coverage in major mastheads, mentions on ABC Breakfast thanks to the wonderful Tony Armstrong, and dedicated news sources with regular updates like those here at The Netball Post and others such as Netball Scoop.
While it has been great, it hasn’t been perfect.
As in previous years, we’ve seen the reductive and latently misogynist framing of player signings through the prism of who their partner is.
Some clubs have nailed the farewell to a departing player, others have unfortunately added to a reputation for cutthroat and short-sighted roster cuts.
But that is, as they say, sport. And even in those missteps, there is a story.
So now the question is, who tells that story?
We have an ever-increasing landscape of netball-focused content borne out of a vacuum of league-driven material.
In the absence of an SSN Trade Talk show, column or live blog, we the fans stepped into the breach.
As we approach this next era of SSN under the Foxtel broadcasting deal, I hope the powers that be have been paying attention.
There is an audience and an appetite for netball content beyond game day.
What we have seen from the fanbase and the intrepid social media teams at many of the SSN clubs over the past fortnight has proven that in spades.
Give us Erin Delahunty and Courtney Gould breaking down the latest netball news stories on a panel show?
Give us ex-players like Bianca Chatfield and current players like Ash Braz talking all things movements on Centre Court.
Give us a Round by Round break down with a rotating roster of hosts featuring our beloved podcasters, who’ve done the hard yards on the ground cultivating an adult audience when the sport we love persisted in telling us we didn’t exist.
And for the love of all the things someone hand @congiergemaree the keys to a social media castle. She, and we, have earned it.