Fans upset with Firebirds’ decision not to play team’s only Indigenous player in Indigenous Round

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The Queensland Firebirds’ decision not to use Super Netball’s only Indigenous player during their Indigenous Round match has attracted criticism on Twitter.

Jemma Mi Mi, who was on the Firebirds’ bench, did not take the court in the 64-58 victory over Melbourne Vixens in Cairns on Sunday afternoon.

A Firebirds spokesperson said the club would not comment about the decision not to use Mi Mi against the Vixens.

Mi Mi featured in Super Netball’s promotion of its Indigenous Round, which began in Townsville on Wednesday evening and concluded with the Firebirds-Vixens match.

The competition’s official broadcaster, the Nine Network, drew attention to the fact Mi Mi did not get on the court during its broadcast and on its Twitter account devoted to Super Netball coverage.

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The club’s decision not to play Mi Mi off the bench was questioned by a number of Twitter users, with some suggesting her role in the promotion of the Indigenous Round amounted to an act of tokenism.

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Jessica Currie tweeted: “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.”

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Sports broadcaster Brad Cooke expressed disgust with the decision made by Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke, calling on the club 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’m filthy.”

Another Twitter user, Jacqui Lawson, wrote she was disappointed that Mi Mi did not play during Super Netball’s Indigenous Round.

“So disrespectful to her and the Indigenous community,” she tweeted.

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Mi Mi, 24, has made nine appearances for the Firebirds this season.

She debuted for the Firebirds in Super Netball in 2017 and two years later was named in the Australia A Development team.

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“When I first, I guess, found out I was the only Indigenous athlete in the Super Netball competition I was pretty surprised,” Mi Mi told the ABC prior to Super Netball’s Indigenous Round.

“Because I guess I know there is so much Indigenous talent out there. I’ve learnt now to really own that responsibility and take on that pressure.”

The Newcastle-born Mi Mi is also a former Australian touch football representative.

Super Netball described its Indigenous Round as a “Women’s Ceremony — a gathering of many journeys at the same destination”.

The eight teams wore outfits inspired by Indigenous artwork, and the match ball used during the round was designed by Wurundjeri and Yorta-Yorta woman Simone Thomson.

Vixens go down ahead of finals

The Firebirds, last season’s wooden spooners, earned their third win from their past four matches while handing the Vixens — Super Netball’s minor premiers — just their second loss of the season.

Firebirds goal shooter Romelda Aiken finished with 45 goals but the victory was built on the defensive efforts of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner, along with Gabi Simpson’s leadership from wing defence.

“I guess it’s been building all season, it’s great that we can finally get out here and we’re all really connected and doing our own job,” Jenner said.

With the minor premiership firmly in their keeping, the Vixens allowed Liz Watson to sit out for a second-straight match with an ankle complaint, while Caitlin Thwaites started the match on the bench.

Thwaites came into the contest after the Firebirds led 18-12 at quarter-time and swung momentum to the Vixens with a barrage of super shots to cut Queensland’s lead to two points approaching half-time.

A late two-pointer from Tippah Dwan handed the Firebirds a 35-31 advantage at half-time but the Vixens answered with six of the first seven goals of the third term to take the lead.

The Firebirds then steadied to edge ahead 48-44 at three-quarter time then opened the fourth term with five goals in a row to complete the upset win.

A Queensland Firebirds Super Netball player reaches out to catch the ball with both hands.A Queensland Firebirds Super Netball player reaches out to catch the ball with both hands.
Romelda Aiken was among the Firebirds’ best with 45 goals.(AAP: Albert Perez)

They finish their season against Collingwood Magpies in Brisbane on Saturday, while the Vixens face the Lightning on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday in a clash that will determine second spot on the ladder.

The Lightning are holding down second but are only two points ahead of the Fever, who conclude their regular season against Adelaide Thunderbirds in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Fever will secure second spot if they beat the Thunderbirds, and the Lightning lose to the Vixens.

NSW Swifts round out the top four.

AAP/ABC

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