Pregnant Queensland floorball star Romelda Aiken-George has dropped a bombshell on the sport, saying she will not be offered a new Firebirds deal because the club deems her “too risky”.
Aiken-George, who is a three-time championship winner, missed out on Super Netball 2022 after announcing she was pregnant before the season.
Aiken-George, who is out of contract until 2023, announced on social media that she would not be returning to the club where she played for the past 14 seasons.
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“Ok so a lot of people have been asking if I’ll be playing for the Firebirds next season, the answer is ‘NO’,” she wrote on social media.
“And that decision was not made by me, but by the club. “They say it’s too risky.
“So I will NOT be in the Firebirds next season.
The 33-year-old initially indicated she would like to play while pregnant and reach the remarkable 200-game milestone, but illness prevented her from taking the court and West Aussie Donnell Wallam was named as her replacement.
At the time, Aiken-George said, “I’m looking forward to being back on the court next year.”
Fox Netball’s Kim Green also took to social media to support Aiken-George.
“If this is the whole story… not good enough from @FirebirdsQld,” she wrote.
“Romelda made the club what it is today and almost single-handedly won premierships for the club. What a way to support a loyal player who has been 1000% poached by EVERY club in the world!”
Last month, the Queensland Firebirds announced Wallam had been offered a new contract along with fellow shooters Gretel Bueta and Mia Stower.
First, the Firebirds released their own statement on Aiken-George on Monday, saying they neither confirmed nor denied the departure of the Jamaican superstar.
Instead, the statement said Aiken-George was recently recognized at the club’s awards ceremony for 15 years of service and the star goalkeeper “spoke of her love for the club and its people and indicated that her playing future was not yet determined”. .
“Netball Queensland is aware of the comments made about Queensland Firebird Romelda Aiken-George and her recent social media post,” it said in a statement.
“The Queensland Firebirds 2023 playing roster is incomplete, the club is set to appoint a new head coach soon and the remaining three contracted players and training partners are yet to be confirmed.”
The club added that the signing trio of Bueta, Wallam and Stower “developed a strong and proven combination during the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season”.
They later issued a second statement.
“As some continue to suggest that the Firebirds make roster management decisions based on anything other than high performance factors, the club categorically denies that Romelda Aitken-George (sp.) was not offered a contract at ten because she pregnant,” it read.
“The Firebirds have built a strong club culture over many seasons that embraces and supports the players’ life choices and to suggest the club operates differently is not fair to the current and former playing group and management.”
The Firebirds have made just one Super Netball final since the competition began in 2017, after years of dominance – led by Aiken – in the previous ANZ Championship series.
They remain without a head coach after Megan Anderson announced her departure after the club finished the 2022 season in sixth place.
The Firebirds have already lost Kim Jenner for next season after the defender turned down a new contract.
Jemma Mi Mi and Eboni Usoro-Brown have confirmed their departure from the club.
Aiken-George is reportedly due to give birth next month. The Queensland Firebirds already have two mothers on their roster for 2023 – Gretel Bueta and Kim Ravaillion.
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