Lockdown leaves women's sport 'struggling' says Saracens Mavericks as financial impact halts games

Saracens Mavericks and Severn Stars competing in February 2020 Credit: PA

By Antoine Allen

Before lockdown thousands of fans watched the opener for the Netball Superleague in what was meant to be a bumper year for women's sport.

But the Covid-19 pandemic turned Saracens Mavericks' joy into despair as British Netball's lack of financial support means they can't play the game they love.

It's devastating the fact we trained so hard, it's our job to do that and to not get that on and show what we have in the season is really hard.

Kadeen Corbin, Saracens Mavericks

In New Zealand the government's years of support for netball means their professional league will be restarting soon.

However the Saracens Mavericks part time team have to train via video call and ask fans for donations to ensure their survival.

The Mavericks' coach believes that without the kind of financial support seen in New Zealand a whole generation won't see sporting role models.

I've got a six-year-old myself and I want her to grow up with role models. I think all women's sport is struggling at the moment.

Kathryn Ratnapala, Saracens Mavericks coach
Arsenal Ladies' Beth Mead (right) and West Ham United Ladies' Gilly Flaherty (left) Credit: PA

In football the Women's Super League agreed a multi million pound sponsorship deal with Barclays Bank.

But even this new injection of cash couldn't stop players like West Ham's Gilly Flaherty agreeing the best financial decision was to prematurely end the season - even though the men's season was allowed to restart.

It's hard to compare the men and women's game when there is so much money involved in the men's game. We have to look at it from the Women's Super League point of view that the best decision for us collectively as a league and as players was that we didn't carry on.

Gilly Flaherty, West Ham United Women

Women's sport believes potential empty seats and stadiums should be used as an opportunity to gain more viewers on TV if women's sport is supported with equal parity to men.