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Donnell Wallam breaks silence on Diamonds and Hancock Prospecting sponsorship saga

Netball star Donnell Wallam has spoken publicly for the first time since the national headlines emerged six months ago about her involvement in the controversy surrounding the Aussie Diamonds and Hancock Prospecting sponsorship saga.

In an appearance on the ABC Sport Daily podcast, the Noongar woman described her experience at the center of the controversy as "tricky" and "tough," and explained that she had only just taken a break from media commitments.

"It's been a crazy ride, I remember just being kind of no one, and no one knowing who I am," she said. "I was so new to Super Netball and now there's a bit of pressure to back up that breakout season."

"A lot of people have reached out to chat and I sort of just needed to take a break; it was a tricky time with so much going on, so I kind of just needed to distance myself a little bit."

Netball Australia signed a $15 million deal with the mining company in September 2022, requiring the national sporting body to display Hancock signage at match venues and for Diamonds players to wear the company's logo on their playing dresses in the Constellation Cup and England Test series. The logo was not displayed during the team's first trans-Tasman match in New Zealand, as issues emerged behind the scenes, and the sponsorship was ultimately pulled after the deceased company founder Lang Hancock's attitude towards First Nations people was revealed.

"It's not my job to educate but in those moments, you really have to, because if not me it's going to be the next Indigenous sports star that is going to have to do it."

"As a First Nations athlete with a platform, you do have to use your voice."

"You feel a responsibility to be that for your people, so it's something that I am willing to do but it's also something that the whole of Australia needs to educate themselves on."

Wallam has continued to let her netball do the talking, starring for the Queensland Firebirds and securing individual sponsorship deals since the saga. She understands that she has played an important part in the conversation regarding the treatment of Indigenous Australians, and is keen to keep fighting despite the heavy burden.

Wallam missed out on selection for the Diamonds' successful Quad Series campaign in January but is being closely watched by head coach Stacey Marinkovich in the lead-up to the Netball World Cup.

"[Stacey and I] have had feedback sessions and she's told me the things I need to work on, so that's been my focus, trying to implement that and doing what I can to help the Firebirds win a game."

"I'll just keep playing my role and hopefully that pays off for me for World Cup."

Read the full article here.

Courtesy ABC News

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