Super Netball 2022: Kate Walsh calls out social media abuse after incident with Sophie Fawns, Sunshine Coast Lightning

Netball Australia has rallied behind Sunshine Coast Lightning defender Kate Walsh after she was slammed on social media.

Netball Australia and the Sunshine Coast Lightning have strongly condemned a series of anti-social and bullying posts on social media directed towards Lightning defender Kate Walsh over the last week.

The Lightning said Walsh has been subjected to multiple bullying remarks and posts on various social media platforms following the Lightning’s Round 5 Super Netball match against the NSW Swifts.

In a couple of fiery incidents, Walsh got tangled up with Swifts youngster Sophie Fawns when she tried to reach over to contest shots from Swifts shooter Helen Housby.

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But things got tense in the third quarter when Walsh karate chopped Fawns on the neck and shoved her out of the way as the Swifts shooter fell to the ground.

The by-play between the pair continued later with a similar incident, when Walsh reached over Fawns to defend a shot and nearly face-palmed her in the process.

It sparked debate among commentators and fans over whether Walsh’s defensive tactics went too far.

Footage of the incident started trending on TikTok after a follower posted it to the social media platform with the caption: “Say you’re a bully, without saying you’re a bully”.

The video has now been viewed almost five million times and features several critical comments.

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said bullying in the form of comments and posts on social media is unacceptable and would always be taken with extreme caution and concern.

“Netball Australia will not tolerate any form of threats, bullying, or otherwise directed at our players, coaches, umpires and officials,” Ryan said.

“Kate, first and foremost, is a human being who has the right to compete and play netball without being subjected to this type of cruel behavior.

“Providing every one of our athletes with a safe and secure environment in which to perform is our number one priority and this extends into social media.

“We recognize the many benefits and positives that come along with social media, but this is not one of them and as a netball community we will not tolerate this type of behavior. We ask all our fans to be respectful when engaging on social media.”

Netball Australia said appropriate action will be taken where it is able to identify the individuals concerned.

Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith also condemned the events over the past week.

“Sunshine Coast Lightning has zero tolerance for bullying and harassment in any form, and our club and Kate appreciate the collaboration between ourselves, Netball Australia, the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) and the relevant authorities to address this unacceptable behaviour”, Smith said.

“Lightning is also providing Kate with support from many people at the club, including our wellbeing manager and psychologist.

“Kate has shown tremendous resilience and is focusing on our home match this Sunday against GIANTS netball at USC Stadium.”

Walsh said she hoped her experience would be a catalyst for others to educate themselves about bullying and harassment on social media.

“I just want to say thank you so much to the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Netball Australia, ANPA and every single person that has reached out in support.

“I really hope this experience can start some positive conversations around the netball community and the wider audience on cyber bullying and harassment on social media platforms, and if anyone is going through something themselves right now, know that they too can reach out and gain help .”


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