A brand new, five-team, women’s National Basketball League (NBL) will tip off in mid-2022, and is expected to attract top talent to Aotearoa, garner New Zealand’s women’s basketball more exposure than ever before, and better prepare the Sky Sport Tall Ferns for international competition.
The five new franchises will play a 12-game home and away regular season, followed by a Final 4. Every game will be broadcast live on Sky Sport, supported by the recently announced partnership between Basketball New Zealand and Sky Sport.
NBL General Manager, Huw Beynon says this is a long overdue change for the women’s game.
“This league will catapult the women’s game in Aotearoa into unchartered territory. It will provide a pathway for our athletes to reach the best leagues in the world, it will give them a professional league to play in at home, and most importantly it will expose the next generation of basketball players and fans to our incredible kaiaka wahine,” says Beynon.
Perhaps the most significant change to the league from previous iterations, is the governed salary system. Significant investment has been put into the players’ salaries - which will be governed by the League - meaning the athletes will be the highest paid female basketballers in domestic league history.
Beynon says that this can only be good for local players.
“To attract the best players, we have to pay them what they are worth. We’re excited to welcome our Tall Ferns home - as well as top imports - who will help lift the level of our competition.”
Megan Compain, a BBNZ Board Member - and a trailblazer for women’s basketball in New Zealand - says this revamp is vital for the continued growth of the women’s game.
“It’s exciting and genuinely ground-breaking, in the sense that it creates an aspirational pathway for current and aspiring Tall Ferns to come home and play in a meaningful competition - and get paid for it,” says Compain.
“It also shows there is both commitment and investment in the women’s game, which will help attract the best talent to play in the league. And because it’s supported by Sky Sport and all games are broadcast, it’s all just going to elevate this sport to the next level.”
Compain says she is particularly excited by the pay equality between the men’s and women’s competition, which she believes is a ‘game-changer’.
“This signals to fans and sponsors that this ‘product’ is worth watching and investing in, and that we are taking our female athletes seriously.
“It’s a fantastic signal in that our female athletes will be making the type of money that allows them to play professionally and to invest in themselves more to become better basketball players - without having to hold down another job or other financial pressures.”
Expressions of Interest are now officially welcome from potential owners of the five franchises, who will cover the length of New Zealand and will be provided with unique names, brand, and colours. The EOI can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3deUFAV
The teams will be announced in February 2022.