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Netball star Romelda Aiken-George fell pregnant in February. She was told she was "too risky" to re-sign.

Netball star Romelda Aiken-George is just two games short of reaching her 200-game milestone. 

The 33-year-old, who is pregnant with her first child, was looking forward to returning to her team, the Queensland Firebirds, next year and ticking off the achievement. 

It would be just another accolade to her name, having helped the Firebirds win three premierships, taken home multiple MVP awards and claimed the record for the most goals scored by an individual in a grand final.

But on Monday, Aiken-George announced her Super Netball contract had not been renewed as the Firebirds deemed it "too risky" for her to make a return next season.

"Okay, so a lot of people has (sic) been asking if I'll be playing for the firebirds next season, the answer is 'NO'," she shared on Instagram.

"And that decision was not made by me, it was by the club."

"'Too risky they say.' So I will NOT be in the FIREBIRDS next season."

Aiken-George announced her pregnancy in February, opting not to play the 2022 season - which would have been her 15th year with the club - after battling with morning sickness and COVID-19.

Her departure saw rookie Donnell Wallam join the team as the Firebirds’ goal shooter. 

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After sharing she will not be re-joining the team, fellow netball players have come out in support of Aiken-George.

Former Australian Diamond Kim Green tweeted "it is not good enough".

"Romelda has made that club what it is today and has almost single-handedly won premierships for that club," she continued.

"What a way to support a loyal player, who was 1000% poached by EVERY club in the world!"

Aiken-George's former teammate, Natalie Medhurst, replied to the tweet, saying she was "seriously fuming".

"I actually can’t believe I am reading this. It broke me when I read it on her socials," she wrote. 

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Medhurst later spoke to CODE Sports, calling for Netball Australia to introduce contractual certainty for netball players returning from parental leave, similar to the conditions Cricket Australia introduced for female cricketers. 

The governing body, in agreement with the Australian Cricketers' Association, introduced 12 months paid maternity leave three years ago, to support female players through pregnancy, adoption and their return to the sport. 

"Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me, either, and I’m sick of saying that, but some of the things our sport does to its female athletes just continually keep happening, and they’re not right," the ex-Diamond player told the publication. 

"Netball just needs to do a lot more. Netball Australia keeps on trying to say that we’re the premier female sport, yet we don’t actually properly support our female athletes, because one of the things of being a female is that a lot of us have babies, but you become a liability most of the time by doing it.

"To think that then ends your career, at what should be one of the happiest and most exciting times of your life… You would assume it might be pretty hard for Romelda to now get a contract anywhere, and for me it just doesn’t seem right."

How the Queensland Firebirds have responded. 

Following the backlash, the Firebirds first issued a statement saying the playing roster for 2023 was incomplete and they were awaiting the appointment of a replacement coach for Megan Anderson. 

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"Netball Queensland is aware of commentary surrounding Queensland Firebird Romelda Aiken-George and her recent social media post," they wrote, responding under the Queensland Netball banner.

"The Queensland Firebirds 2023 playing roster is incomplete, with the club shortly set to name a new Head Coach, and the remaining three contracted players, plus training partners still to be confirmed."

They later issued a second statement, claiming their decision not to offer Aiken-George a Super Netball contract was not influenced by her pregnancy, but rather based on high-performance reasons. 

"In the face of some still implying that the Firebirds club makes list management decisions based on anything other than high-performance related factors, the club unequivocally denies that Romelda Aiken-George was not offered a contract in the 10 because she is pregnant," they said.

"The Firebirds have developed a strong club culture over many seasons that embraces and supports life decisions of players, and suggestions that the club operates otherwise is not fair on the current and former playing group and management."

The team's 2022 Super Netball team featured three mothers - Gretel Bueta, Kim Ravaillon and Eboni Usoro-Brown, who has since left the club. 

Bueta returned the court last year just four months after giving birth. 

- With AAP. 

Feature Image: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire/Getty/Mamamia.

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