Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer has announced she will be stepping down from the role on December 23, ending a decade-long stint in the job.
Her deputy chief Marne Fechner will step in as the organisation’s acting CEO.
Palmer leaves the organisation on the eve of Australia’s new eight-team domestic competition, Suncorp Super Netball, which begins in February.
The new league has secured a five-year broadcast deal with Channel Nine and Telstra.
During Palmer’s reign, Netball Australia’s revenues grew from $6 million to $26 million, with the game still the highest participation sport for women in Australia.
Recently, major sponsors such as insurer Suncorp and Nissan Australia have been secured to support the sport from an elite level down to grassroots.
Palmer said in a statement, “I am also proud of my achievements during my tenure as chief executive. This would not have been possible without the leadership, support and guidance of the board or the dedication of our staff.
“One of the great challenges has been balancing the emphasis on high performance and winning milestone events, while also ensuring that every little girl in the country can play the game and be the best they can be.”
Former Australian captain and current broadcaster, Liz Ellis, paid tribute to Palmer for the sport’s evolution. “Netball was always talked about as the ‘sleeping giant’ and in the last decade Kate Palmer has, using a process of gentle shaking and persuasive talking through to outright kicking, woken it.
“Under her leadership huge change has occurred. Most notably from my point of view, elite players have moved from being poorly recompensed and undervalued to being some of the best paid, and most highly valued, female athletes in the country.
“We have seen the start and finish of the ANZ Championship, and the move into Suncorp Super Netball, as well as the successful staging of the recent Fast5 event in Melbourne and the continued growth of the mass participant event, Netfest on the Gold Coast.”