As Tracey Neville announces she'll be stepping down to have a family, the Netball Nation team discuss support for players, coaches and their families.
"Tracey Neville is stepping down as Roses Head Coach and you’ve mentioned Tamsin Greenway has just announced that she’s pregnant, so this is something quite topical. The BBC has also recently spoken about how female athletes should get more support if they decide to have children. What are your thoughts on this?"
"It wasn’t the same for me, as I decided to retire from International sport at a particular time in my life, because I wanted a family. If I’d have stayed on for another four years it then would have put me in a bracket of: 'Do I still bother', or 'Will I be too old?'
"How much does that decision end up consuming your thoughts, and how much pressure do you put on yourself thinking what do I do here?"
"From a playing perspective, I felt a lot of pressure because I was enjoying playing at the highest level, and I wasn’t overly old! I was still really young compared to some of the girls still in the game playing International netball, but I just knew that I had to make that tough decision right then, as I might not have had the same options if I’d left it for another four years. It was difficult, but it was the right decision as far as I’m concerned."
"I think the sport is getting better at supporting mothers, because it has to."
"You look at the steps the Australian Player’s Association have taken in the last 18 months, and the support for mothers has really ramped up there. You’ve got the likes of Laura Geitz who played a season whilst she had a child, and Bec Bulley was playing and travelling with her child.
I think you have to recognise that this is a female only sport, and this will continue to be an issue, as people are going to continue to get pregnant and have lives to juggle. You've got to make it as easy as possible to keep the best players in the game and not make them decide: ‘Do I want to play netball?’ or ‘Do I want to have a family?’ You’ve got to make it possible to do both.
They’ve done that in New Zealand by enabling players to travel with kids and receive support from clubs.
You look at England Netball and we’re talking about Tamsin, and if you want Tamsin to do the England job, then you’ve got to make it possible for her to it, because it includes a lot of travel. If you go on tour to Australia and New Zealand and she’s just had a child, you’ve got to make it possible for her to do that.
That’s the reality that England Netball face and netball as a whole faces. Women are going to continue to have children and that’s not going to change, so you have to be the one that changes."
To hear the full discussion, you can download the latest episode here.
By Kate Lightfoot