Wed, Sep 29, 2021 8:41 AM

New mum takes netball’s top prize

Stoke shooter and Nelson Netball MVP Rachel George with her baby boy Archie. Photo: Jonty Dine

Jonty Dine

Rachel George may have had her first baby only four months before starting to play netball for Stoke but she managed to come away with the title of the season’s top player.

Rachel George, nee Kersten, was named Nelson Netball’s Most Valuable Player for 2021. However, she only heard about it via a Zoom announcement after rushing to get cellphone reception in the remote Golden Bay.

“We were in Wharariki Beach and were hustling back trying to get some reception.”

Rachel managed to get some bars and the news she was named the top netballer in Nelson.

“It was very unexpected, but very exciting.”

Her husband Dan proceeded to toot the car horn loudly in celebration.

The couple had just moved back to Nelson in December and Rachel recently gave birth to their first child, Archie.

However, it didn’t take long to get back into her sporting ways.

“I knew if I got nine months down the track, I’d be gutted I didn’t play.”

Rachel says both teammates and coaches were incredibly supportive in ensuring she wasn’t over doing it and looking after Archie during games.

The Stoke shooter says it took a while to get back into form.

“I definitely felt there was a dusty start, and the shooting stats should have been better than what they were. I had a real lack of fitness having done nothing for nine months, but I made it work and was very lucky.”

The MVP award is decided through a total point tally after opposition teams put forward three, two and one points for a player after each game.

Rachel says she hopes she can encourage other woman to get back into sport following a pregnancy.

“Individual recovery has to come first but I think it’s great to have something that’s a bit of you completely. It is really nice to have something to talk to people about that is not babies as much as I love everything baby.”

She says it was a disappointing blow when Covid-19 cut the season short.

“We were hustling, so it was gutting for it to end.”

One particular highlight of the season was against Rachel’s former club, Jacks, who triumphed in a nail-biting 48-47 victory.

“We didn’t get the win, but it was such an enjoyable game.”

Rachel says she is relishing her new role in motherhood.

“I love it so much. I think Archie is a pretty great baby so I feel very lucky that he lets me get some sleep and is pretty happy and content.”

She is hopeful of a return to action in 2022.

“The knee is not 100 per cent but we will see how we go.”