It’s almost exactly a year since Sophia Candappa pulled on the Black and Gold for the final time before becoming a mother.
Fast-forward 12 months and the mid-court star is on the comeback trail, whilst also looking after her son Otis.
Since announcing she would be taking a break from netball, Sophia has spoken openly about the changing sporting landscape and been an advocate for women being able to come back and play after having a child.
She is looking to make good on her promise and be back playing Superleague netball in the coming months – and says she is loving being a mum.
“I’m absolutely loving being a Mum. Otis is a lovely, chilled out and smiley boy,” Sophia said.
“Obviously there have been ups and downs with hormones, but I’ve had a really good support network to help me get through it.
“It’s always in the back of your mind on whether this is going to be it now for me with netball, because you don’t know what your journey into motherhood is going to be like.
“But I have always been determined to come back, netball is the thing I love and it makes me a better mum.
“I feel very strongly that men becoming fathers has no impact on their sporting careers. For women, there is the physical impact of having a baby but we should still have the opportunity to return to playing at the top level.
“When I return to Otis I’m refreshed, I’ve seen my friends, I’ve exercised – enjoying all those physical and social benefits.
“Otis will always be my number one priority but I think the two work together, if at any point I felt like I wasn’t being the best mum I could be because of netball then I would stop playing.”
Sophia returned to training with Wasps just five weeks after giving birth and has been working hard in the gym to rebuild her strength.
She then moved on to playing uncontested netball before recently getting back out on court with her teammates, which is what she says she missed the most.
“I’ve missed it so much, I’m really excited to get back on court because I love playing with this team,” she said.
“With my recent injuries and having a baby, I’ve spent a lot of time on the side-lines and it makes you realise just how much you love the sport.
“After having a baby it’s really important you get your body back to being as strong as possible, but there is only so much you can do in the gym and building in-game netball fitness is crucial.
“I’ve been talking a lot to people who have gone through similar things and they have helped, people like Tamsin Greenway, who understand the changes having a baby does to your body.
“Mel Mansfield has been great with managing my training workload too and I can’t wait to get back out there with my teammates.”