Sue Gaudion has questioned why Super Netball’s only Indigenous player was left on the bench for the entirety of her match in the league’s Indigenous round.
Jemma Mi Mi didn’t see a single second of action as the Queensland Firebirds beat the Melbourne Vixens 64-58 on Sunday.
‘SHOULD BE ASHAMED’: Netball rocked by 'despicable' act
‘DISGRACEFUL’: Netball world erupts over send-off controversy
As the match was winding down and the Firebirds had victory assured, coach Roselee Jencke appeared to try to get Mi Mi on at wing attack for Lara Dunkley.
However without a stoppage to allow a substitution, Mi Mi was left awkwardly pacing the sideline.
In commentary for Channel Nine, Gaudion suggested Dunkley should have just walked off.
“Lara Dunkley looking across to Jemma Mi Mi,” Gaudion said.
“I know she’s only a youngster, but if it was me I’d walk off the court and let Mi Mi come on. Not to be.”
Fellow Aussie legend Liz Ellis agreed with the comments.
“I guess we still haven’t got this fully right,” Gaudion wrote on Twitter after the match.
“Look it would be great to see her on the court and sadly even at the end the opportunity was missed.
“But at the same time the Firebirds had plenty to play for and that win will be attributed as much to Mi Mi even with her not on the court.”
I guess we still haven’t got this fully right! 🥺 https://t.co/WyXzg9DBG3— Sue Gaudion (@SueGaudion) September 20, 2020
Gaudion also moved to clarify her comments about Dunkley, insisting she wasn’t blaming her.
“I don’t believe we shifted blame onto her at all and you are not helping the narrative by saying that!!!” Gaudion responded to criticism from a Twitter user.
“I think if you listen again I mention that Dunkley is a young player alluding to her possible inexperience or lack of awareness in that moment!!!!
“I think all athletes and all coaches should have enough awareness and education to understand that moment, or to be honest at an earlier opportunity.”
Netball fans fume over Jemma Mi Mi ‘snub’
Beryl Friday, another Indigenous netballer who plays in England, also expressed her disappointment for Mi Mi.
“When players are benched, it’s often for reasons we can’t see ie injury, player match ups etc,” she tweeted.
“But being the only FNs player in the comp can be draining. There is a lot of pressure and expectation. Right now, I just hope Jem is OK.
“To be very clear, I am deeply disappointed Jemma didn’t play today.”
When players are benched, it's often for reasons we can't see ie injury, player match ups etc. But being the only FNs player in the comp can be draining. There is a lot of pressure and expectations. Right now, I just hope Jem is ok— Beryl Friday (@BerylDaisy) September 20, 2020
To be very clear, I am deeply disappointed Jemma didn't play today— Beryl Friday (@BerylDaisy) September 20, 2020
Sports broadcaster Brad Cooke also expressed his anger, calling on the Firebirds to “do better”.
“I hope Roselee Jencke truly regrets her decision to not play Jemma Mi Mi, the only Indigenous Super Netball player in the league, during Indigenous round,” he tweeted.
I hope Roselee Jencke truly regrets her decision to not play Jemma Mi Mi, the only Indigenous super netball player in the league, during Indigenous round. I’m filthy. Do better @FirebirdsQld and @NetballAust you absolutely blew it.— Brad Cooke (@CookeBrad) September 20, 2020
Fans were also fuming on social media.
Jemma Mi Mi the only indigenous player in SSN but can’t even get some game time during the Indigenous round. So disrespectful to her and the Indigenous community. Young Indigenous girls are unable to see their role model play during such an import round #SSNVixensFirebirds— jacqui lawson (@jacqui_lawson) September 20, 2020
There’s a huge disparity between words and actions in our sport at elite level.— Jessica Currie (@Jess_M_Currie) September 20, 2020
Jemma Mi Mi has done a lot of heavy lifting this week with interviews and talking about the pressure of being a role model for her people. And she doesn’t get on court. #SSNVixensFirebirds
I am actually spitting mad that Jemma Mi Mi didn’t get on court today. All that talk about the importance of this round, all the media work she’ll have done this week and then zero court time. Utter disgrace and I’m fuming for her. #SSNIndigenousRound #SSNVixensFirebirds— Ally (@allyallyfay) September 20, 2020
Disgraceful stuff by @FirebirdsQld not playing Jemma Mi Mi today whom is the only indigenous player in Suncorp Super netball for indigenous round. Not even one minute even after all her promo work.— John Vizzone (@JVizzone) September 20, 2020
Mi Mi has played 383 minutes this year but has seen more time on the bench recently, with Jencke preferring Dunkley at wing attack.