New mum Laura Geitz praises netball for support
NETBALL: Diamond great Laura Geitz has praised netball's support of her dream to return to the highest level of the game as a new mother as an "amazing step forward for women's sport".
As the Diamonds prepare to take on New Zealand in their third game of the Quad series in Johannesberg on Sunday, Geitz is in Australia training after being elevated back into the Australian netball squad preparing for teh Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast - less than a year after becoming a mother.
The 68-game veteran said she was excited and delighted to be back playing alongside the world's best netballers but refused to be drawn on her chances of being selected to play at the Commonwealth Games when the team is named in February 5.
"As I say, I have no expectations that I should be there. It is a selectors decision," said the 30-year-old mother of son Barney, born in February 2017.
Geitz earned her call-back to the Diamonds squad after impressing as an invitee at a Commonwealth Games simulation camp in Canberra earlier this month.
"The camp was sensational. I think it was the first time the AIS had a baby on campus " said Geitz of support given to her so she could have her mother looking after Barney while she played and trained.
"I did head down a little nervous. I hoped it wouldn't be a distraction having Barney there but it was incredible how Lisa (Alexander, coach) and the girls embraced it. Lisa is the one that says, 'no fuss, no bother'.
"It's an amazing step forward for women's sport and netball in Australia to allow and help us to be a mum and a player.
"It's such an important part of women's sport moving forward."
Geitz said if she did not have her sports support as a playing mother she might not have attempted to return to the international arena.
"If I was wanting to pursue the dream of a Commonwealth Games it would have been a really difficult decision for me if I had to let him stay at home while I was at camp," she said.
"It would have been difficult mentally. I wouldn't have been able to focus on the camp, worrying thinking about him."
Geitz said she had been reminded how much she loved playing sport at the highest level at the recent camp.
"I needed to train against the best to see exactly where I am," Geitz said.
"The first quarter I played really was a bit of a shock.
"But after that I felt this is what it is all about. Then I had more confidence and by the third day it was, 'yes, I am enjoying this' and my confidence grew.
"I walked away from that camp and said to Lisa I didn't realise how much I missed playing at that high intensity."
Geitz, who lead Australia to its last world championship crown in 2015 and captained the Diamonds to their 2014 Commonwealth Games victory, was recognised as one of the game's greatest defenders before stepping away to start a family.
Netball has a long history of players returning to the highest level of the sport after starting families with Geitz praising Alexander and her teammates' support of her at the recent camp.
"This is where we should be heading in sport," Geitz said. "The support from netball and the girls has been incredible."
Geitz's potential return would add significant backbone to Australia's defence with the experienced Sharni Layton also on the comeback from a time out from the sport with exhaustion.