7 May 2021

Silver Ferns captain felt guilty for taking time out

2:40 pm on 7 May 2021

The Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio won't play netball again this year having announced she's pregnant with her second child.

Last month it was announced Ekenasio, 30, would miss the start of the ANZ Premiership season because of fatigue and that she was going on extended medical leave.

However she returned to Pulse training a couple of weeks ago and there was an expectation a return was not far off.

Ekensaio, who in January led the Silver Ferns to their first Constellation Cup series win over Australia since 2012, will also miss international series scheduled for later this year including another Constellation Cup competition and a Quad series.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dame Noeline Taurua Coach of the Silver Ferns with the Constellation Cup. 2021.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dame Noeline Taurua with the Constellation Cup Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"The mental break gave me really good clarity on why I wanted to come back and play - what 'my why' was and why I wanted to be here and it was to do with the girls and I'm a competitor so I just love playing."

"I had come back on a return to play programme and just a couple of things changed in that time - it's sensitive period, my body is changing, my emotions are on a rollercoaster (but) I was really prepared to come back and play but I now think this is the best decision for me and my family.

Ekenasio said she's unsure if needing a mental break was linked to being pregnant at all.

"I had a whole ton of things on my plate and finding out I was pregnant was just another thing that really demanded a whole lot of my energy...so I don't know if it added to it but it was another factor that my mind very busy."

The short time away from the game has helped her learn a lot about herself and intends advocating more for athletes to take time off.

"At the start I felt really guilty for needing to speak up and say that I wasn't a hundred per cent and I needed some help and some time away from being on court.

But I have learnt that I don't need to be guilty about that and that all athletes should be able to take some time away guilt free when we give so much - this is not a five day a week job... we commit so much to it.

"I am a huge believer in the team comes first no matter what but I have learnt on this occasion for the team to come first I need to come first so I can give what I need to, to the team."

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua congratulated Ekenasio on her pregnancy.

"The ability for our elite female athletes to be mothers whilst still performing at the highest level is no mean feat.....we all look forward to meeting the newest member of our Silver Ferns family," she said.