Queensland Firebirds netball star Romelda George ‘fully intending’ to play pregnant

Headshot of Catherine Healey
Catherine HealeyThe West Australian
Romelda Aiken wants to play on in 2022.
Camera IconRomelda Aiken wants to play on in 2022. Credit: Jason O’Brien/AAPIMAGE

Queensland netball star Romelda George (nee Aiken) has told the club she intends to play on and reach her 200-game milestone, despite being pregnant.

Aiken, one of Super Netball’s most prolific scorers in the competition’s history, is currently sitting on 198 games and remains fully contracted on the club’s 10-player roster.

In a statement, the Firebirds revealed Aiken, who is in her early stages of pregnancy, was keen to play on while pregnant — and confirmed the club would not be recruiting controversial New Zealand star Maria Folau (nee Tutaia).

“Romelda’s baby news is brilliant, and the club has been fully supportive of her playing right through until she’s ready to step away,” Firebirds CEO Kate Davies said.

Romelda Aiken warms up.
Camera IconRomelda Aiken warms up. Credit: Jason O’Brien/AAPIMAGE

“Romelda was fully intending to play at Team Girls Cup, but due to COVID-affected complications, particularly around dehydration, it was deemed unsafe, seeing her ruled unavailable.

“Romelda is still fully contracted as part of our 10, and hence the club has no ability or desire to name a replacement until she formally withdraws from the team.”

Waiting for a chance is WA’s rising star Donnell Wallam, who made her Firebirds debut in last weekend’s Team Girls Cup pre-season competition.

Wallam has been a standout in the WA State Netball League in recent years, and headed to England to play in the Super League competition in 2021.

Now back in Australia, Wallam impressed for Queensland — despite her limited training with the club due to contracting COVID.

George confirmed she had been experiencing “severe illness” while pregnant, but could still play in the club’s round one clash with the Melbourne Vixens.

Despite Super Netball being one of the most physical netball leagues in the world, Netball Australia does allow pregnant women to compete.

“Netball Australia encourages all pregnant participants to discuss their decision to continue participating in netball during their pregnancy with their medical practitioner,” the policy reads.

“A pregnant participant is encouraged to be aware that her own health, and the wellbeing of her unborn child, is of utmost importance in her decision about whether to continue participating in netball.”

Pregnant players are also advised to obtain expert medical advice, have regular antenatal reviews with her doctor, including ongoing review of her netball participation and take into account her changed physical condition, use common sense and not take unnecessary risks.

Already Sunshine Coast Lightning star Karla Pretorius has withdrawn from the 2022 Super Netball season after falling pregnant with her first child.

George’s Firebirds teammate Gretel Bueta and GIANT April Brandley are two players who have returned to the competition after giving birth. They were assisted by their respective clubs with a support person able to travel with the team.

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