One of Australia’s greatest ever netballers Sharni Layton has opened up about her mental health challenges while announcing she’ll soon retire from the sport.
The Collingwood defender who has represented Australia 46 times, took a six month break last year due to mental health reasons, and says she almost left the sport at the time.
She’s hoping that by sharing her experience of coming back into the sport that she can encourage others to seek the help they need. She also acknowledged the support she got from Collingwood and Netball Australia.
“There is this perception in society that we are meant to be happy but if you’re not, it’s okay,” she said during the press conference yesterday.
“I think for me once I went through it, it made me realise how normal it is. I wondered why more people don’t talk about it. I have had no judgement or criticism about talking about it. Only praise.”
Layton announced her retirement at the Magpies headquarters, with family, staff, current and past players present.
She said she wouldn’t have been able to return to the sport without the professional support she received, as well as the support from her team.
“I’m very proud to have been able to get back on court because to be able to perform under pressure after having gone through something like that is extremely difficult,” she said.
Earlier this year, Layton shared a video about being in a “really bad spot mentally”, noting that, “like any other injury, if you do your ankle, strain your hamstring, you can’t play at your best,” she said. “You need to take time off to get that right.”
She she has achieved everything she could have hoped for in the sport, that after years of striving for more “last year, I sat back and thought, ‘you know what? I am good’.”
So much ❤, I am so overwhelmed in such a great way.. Here’s a vid I prepared earlier. So many and too many to thank, so all I want to say is #ThankYouNetball you’ve shaped me into who I am today. pic.twitter.com/jVksHecCON
— Sharni Layton (@Sharni_Layton) July 18, 2018
She said she’s excited about what she might be able to do next. “I still want to be able to have an impact in women’s sport in whatever role that is.”
Layton first played for Australia in 2009, winning two world titles in 2011 and 2015 as part of the Diamonds. She was also part of the team that won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“I’ve given absolutely everything I have to this game, to my teammates and to myself as an athlete, and it’s time to hand the baton over to the next generation of stars.”
In the last two weeks, three other national players have also announced their retirement including Laura Geitz, Madi Robinson and Susan Pettitt.
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