New mum Ameliaranne Ekenasio relishing her return to the netball court

Getting back into the Silver Ferns is the goal for shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Getting back into the Silver Ferns is the goal for shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Club courts in Kilbirnie feel a long way from the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

But if Ameliaranne Ekenasio is going to make it back into the Silver Ferns in time for April's Commonwealth Games, then there's little time to waste.

A veteran of 12 tests for New Zealand, the 26-year-old shooter became a mum for the first time just nine weeks ago. Son Ocean is doing terrifically well, while Ekenasio has been back playing for PIC for a month or so now.

Pulse shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio is back playing club netball for PIC.

Pulse shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio is back playing club netball for PIC.

"It's interesting," Ekenasio said of her first few weeks back on court

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"Sometimes I think I can do something, but my body is just not going to get there. But it's cool to see an improvement so quickly from the first game. I love it, I've missed it so much so it's so good to be back out on court."

A born and bred Queenslander, Ekenasio was recruited by the Central Pulse for the 2015 trans-Tasman Netball League season. The national team pounced before then, though, and the former Queensland Firebird was drafted into the Silver Ferns' fold for their 2014 series against Australia by virtue of her father's New Zealand ancestry.

The appeal of playing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is obvious, then.

"It's a pretty big goal of mine; you've got to aim big," she said.

"I'd love to, it's just a matter of getting in good enough shape to be available for selection for it."

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The Silver Ferns play 11 tests between now and mid-October but they won't be much good to Ekenasio, while the next Pulse season doesn't start until after the Commonwealth Games. She's been named in the Silver Ferns' development squad for the next 12-month cycle, but will need netball to get into contention for the Gold Coast.

For now the priority is returning to the right shape to play.

"I know the amount of work that it took before having a baby; now it's going to take so much more work to get back to that state, but juggling him as well adds a whole, complete other dimension," said Ekenasio.

"Before, I could do as much training at any time as a I wanted; now it's like, hold on, I've got to plan almost every minute of my day to get back to that kind of training."

Beyond talent, and an improving body of work at international level, hunger is one advantage Ekenasio has. It's hard to succeed if you don't love what you do and pregnancy and motherhood have reminded Ekenasio how good this life is.

"It's given me a whole new perspective, like a whole new gratitude - if that's the right word - to be back involved in netball and training again. Something for me," she said.

"I've never had a major injury in my life but the closest thing I can liken [pregnancy to] is being injured. You know, once someone does their knee they're out for nine months, so it's a similar kind of timeframe but I get a nice little human at the end of it, which is cool.

"It was a bit of a challenge at times but, now that we're here, it's a really nice place to be and it just makes for a really exciting challenge now to get back."



 - Stuff


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