Liz El­lis, 45, netball cham­pion, com­men­ta­tor

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - FRONT - By Vic­to­ria Lau­rie

once play­ers get past 14, i don’t want to deal with them

Af­ter a ca­reer as an elite ath­lete, you’re a com­men­ta­tor on Nine and have writ­ten a book about in­fer­til­ity. What’s the re­sponse been like? I’m sur­prised how many women and men have picked up the book, peo­ple who feel in­cred­i­bly lonely. I got a mes­sage from a woman say­ing, “It’s great be­cause you don’t of­fer me hope. You’ve of­fered me in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice.” When I was go­ing through IVF, my hus­band and I got huge dumps of in­for­ma­tion but with­out a struc­ture; we couldn’t make sense of it. I’m a con­trol freak so it was distress­ing. Your six-year-old daugh­ter Eve­lyn was con­ceived nat­u­rally be­fore you turned to IVF. What hap­pened then? Af­ter five rounds of IVF we felt we were ig­nor­ing the lit­tle girl we had and we thought, “We need to pull up stumps.” Austin [now two] was con­ceived nat­u­rally. His per­son­al­ity matches the way he came along – he does what he wants when he’s ready! You waited a long time be­fore try­ing for chil­dren. Do you think many peo­ple suf­fer fer­til­ity prob­lems for the same rea­son? There are so many ways you come to the point of be­ing in­fer­tile. Some don’t find a part­ner [un­til they’re older]; some just leave it too late. But also 30 per cent of cases are due to male fac­tors. We need to ac­knowl­edge that. With two Com­mon­wealth golds, three world ti­tles and 122 test matches un­der your belt, how about coach­ing the Di­a­monds? Oh no! I love the sport and com­men­tat­ing but coach­ing re­quires a level of ded­i­ca­tion I don’t have any­more. I love coach­ing young play­ers but once they get past 14 and have their own opin­ions, I don’t want to deal with them! The Di­a­monds’ gold medal loss at the Com­mon­wealth Games… what went wrong? Eng­land played in­cred­i­bly well. For most of that tour­na­ment they were su­perb but I just think a lot of Di­a­monds play­ers had a sub-par per­for­mance on the day. I don’t think the Di­a­monds pro­gram needs to be pulled apart; they met an Eng­land team that had ev­ery­thing come to­gether. Netball Aus­tralia re­cently agreed to pay its play­ers prop­erly. How far have we come? A long way. In my last year of play­ing I earned $8000 for the year and I was the high­est paid player in Aus­tralia. The first year top play­ers turned pro­fes­sional was the first year I re­tired. The top play­ers are full-time pro­fes­sional ath­letes and they need a liv­ing wage. Has the AFL women’s league prompted Netball Aus­tralia to get its act to­gether? No, I think netball has been ahead on this. The AFL women need to stand up and say, “Some­body’s mak­ing money out of us, we want to see a cut of it.” The play­ers have to push for it and be pre­pared to stare down the ad­min­is­tra­tors. That’s what we did and I’m so glad we did it.

Do sportswomen need to stare down the me­dia for bet­ter

cov­er­age of women’s sport? Yes, but now netball is get­ting Chan­nel Nine treat­ment and you’re watch­ing the To­day show and netball play­ers are on it. That never hap­pened be­fore, but we still need to get netball on the nightly news. We have a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of fans welded on and rat­ings are up. The sport is head­ing in the right direc­tion. We have to be pa­tient. Do you watch men’s netball? No, I don’t even think about it, to be hon­est. I guess for me there’s so much to be achieved for women’s netball and I’ve only got time to fo­cus on that.

Pho­tog­ra­phy Ju­lian Kingma

If At First You Don’t Con­ceive: Your Friendly Guide to Tack­ling In­fer­til­ity by Liz El­lis (Macmil­lan Aus­tralia, $34.99).

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