Melbourne Vixens mid-courter Khao Watts has today announced her retirement from professional netball.
The 29-year-old played a total of 74 games across four elite clubs in the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball; Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, West Coast Fever, Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens.
Training at the South Australian Sports Institute, Watts had her first shot at elite netball when she was scouted by Magic and current Sunshine Coast Lightning coach, Noeline Taurua at the end of 2011. Watts went on to have a fairy tale debut season with Magic, winning the 2012 Premiership and becoming the only New Zealand team to win an ANZ Championship title.
She has since gone on to play under the likes of Norma Plummer (Fever), Stacey Marinkovich (Fever) and Simone McKinnis (Vixens).
Since being recruited to the Melbourne Vixens at the beginning of 2017, Watts has had to overcome a series of injuries, which has ultimately brought on her decision to retire.
“Honestly, retirement was something I started thinking about at the end of last season after having a few injuries throughout the year. I came into this season wanting to see how the year went and I was just trying to enjoy it all,” said Watts.
“After injuring my knee during the bye week, I didn’t know if I could come back from it, but I still wanted to do everything I could to get back on the court. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case.”
With a career spanning seven years and four clubs, Watts is appreciative of everything the sport has given her.
“Netball has given me so much and brought me to so many wonderful people who I will miss every day, but these past two seasons have personally been very challenging,” said Watts.
“While it’s not how I wanted to finish my career, I can comfortably say that I did everything I could to get back on court this year, but unfortunately my body overruled my efforts and I feel the time is right for me to move on.
“I want to thank my former clubs and coaches for the amazing opportunities they’ve given me, particularly Noeline Taurua who took a chance on an unknown Aussie kid back in 2012. I want to also thank my beautiful parents and my amazing family and friends for their unwavering support, and a very special mention to my fiancé Tim, who has been so selfless for so many years while I’ve been living my dream.
“I feel so lucky to have played netball at the highest level for as long as I have and been able to experience all the highs and lows that come with elite sport.”
Vixens captain, Kate Moloney congratulated Khao on a remarkable career.
“Khao has been such a valuable asset to our team for the last two years, and has really championed what the Vixens are about,” said Moloney.
“While she has had to overcome some obstacles, she’s had such a positive attitude and influence on the team, and we will miss having her around.”
Vixens head coach, Simone McKinnis echoed Kate’s sentiment.
“Although she’s had injuries in her time at the Vixens, Khao’s always positive, upbeat and such a great person to have around the club. She epitomises the values of the Vixens family on and off the court and she will be missed,” said McKinnis.
Watts is looking forward to returning to Adelaide in the coming months to reunite with her fiancé and furthering her career as a teacher.