Silky Central Pulse shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio will be confined to the side-lines for the 2017 ANZ Premiership netball competition after revealing she is expecting her first baby in May.
Showing impressive form for both the Pulse and Silver Ferns this year, Ekenasio had been looking forward to further enhancing her credentials in next year’s new elite domestic competition before learning of her pregnancy.
``It is very exciting news and such a completely different path after being so solely focussed on netball for so long,’’ she said.
Born in Queensland, Ekenasio, 25, has played for the Pulse for two seasons and was eligible for the Silver Ferns by virtue of her New Zealand-born father. She made Wellington her permanent home after marrying partner Damien earlier this year.
On a personal level, it has been a challenging 12 months for Ekenasio who has lost both her mother and grandmother during that time.
``With all my family stuff that’s been going on, it’s really, really fun to have a new chapter and to know that having moved away from my family I’m going to have my own family here, so it’s really nice,’’ she said.
``There’s so many things that say this was just meant to be. We honestly believe that Mum and my Nana sent us this baby, so it’s definitely going to be really special.
``All going well I would hope to be back on court as soon as possible. I’m not sure what I’m in for post-baby and I’m sure it’s not going to be easy but I have every intention of getting back out there.’’
While her on-court presence will be missed, Ekenasio has a valuable role to play in the wider Pulse environment for coach Yvette McCausland-Durie.
``It’s a special time in anyone’s life and that sometimes gets overshadowed by the fact that their work involves being an athlete,’’ McCausland-Durie said.
``We’re certainly going to miss her. She was a critical piece of our group of 10, so we’ll miss a lot of those aspects about her, who she is as a person and her loyalty.
``But she’s intending to be back in 2018, so the key for us is making sure she is able to engage as much as possible in the environment and continue to keep her love of the game and her love of the Pulse alive and well.
``She’s got so much experience, life experiences and netball experiences, so we’d like to keep her around the environment as much as possible.
``Things happen for a reason and we’re really embracing this joy in her life which will become part of all our lives at the Pulse. And it’s important for her to know we’re there to support with this transition.’’
As far as that transition is concerned, the timing has been good.
``As it’s still early pre-season, the replacement player who comes in is going to start with the team like everybody else, so we couldn’t have done it any better really,’’ McCausland-Durie said.
``Ameliaranne has given us plenty of notice and we’ve now got an opportunity to make sure it fits in with where we’re at and that the replacement player aligns with the direction we’re wanting to head in. We’re moving forward and she’s helped that process immensely and she’ll continue to be a key part in it.’’
A replacement player is expected to be named in the coming days.