'Only picked to play guitar': Black Fern alleges coaching comments led to mental breakdown

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Dec 2021, 11:48AM
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate leads the haka ahead of a 2018 test against the Wallaroos. (Photo / Photosport)
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate leads the haka ahead of a 2018 test against the Wallaroos. (Photo / Photosport)

'Only picked to play guitar': Black Fern alleges coaching comments led to mental breakdown

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Dec 2021, 11:48AM

You've only been picked to play the guitar. 

That's among the examples of alleged verbal abuse Black Fern Te Kura Ngata Aerengamate claims were levelled against her by the team's coaching staff. 

The hooker's revealed on social media that the toll of alleged regular verbal barbs boiled over on the recent end-of-year tour when she had a mental breakdown. 

Ngata Aerengamate alleges throughout her years in the team she was sworn at, and questioned about what her students thought of her. 

New Zealand Rugby has been approached for comment. 

"One week post tour and the emotions are real. The should I speak up or should I stay quiet runs through my mind a thousand times. Never would I have ever thought that I would become mentally ill in a sport that I loved so much," Ngata Aerengamate said on Instagram. 

"I didn't perform the way I wanted to this tour. And the way I have been playing the last few years hasn't been my best. 

Over the past 8 years that I have been in the Black Ferns, I have struggled mentally and finally let it all out on the most recent tour." 

"Yes, I had a mental breakdown in front of everyone." 

Ngata Aerengamate then listed alleged comments made to her by coaching staff, 

"- That I had been selected but didn't deserve to be in the team 
"- That he was embarrassed for me 
"-I was told that he couldn't tell my worth in the Blackferns 
"- I was told what would my students think of me? 
"- I was sworn at for wearing my jacket around my hips, I was yelled at running to rucks, how I ran the ball, anything I did I felt I was doing wrong. 
" - a recent comment that I was picked only to play the guitar," she posted. 

"From these comments I ended up going crazy. I had to do anger management counselling, I had discovered anxiety & hyperventilating for the first time in my life, I could hear these comments in my mind as I threw the ball. My confidence and self-esteem was so low that it made me play like I was walking on egg shells and was constantly too scared to express myself. I invited self doubt and insecurities; some being unbearable to look myself in the mirror," she said. 

"The reality is that I had been defeated and it was so dark that I could no longer see my WHY. I had forgotten about the 5year old girl who started playing rugby with her cousins 25 years ago. 

"I let the words over the years get to me, the words became the flesh. Lesson is, never let anyone dim your light. Be proud of who you are. If you are treated unfairly, hit them up unapologetically because at the end of the day it's your mana on the line. 

"I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm still a person and at the very least deserve to be treated with respect. 

"Now I'm on a journey of healing. Stand up. Speak up. Know your worth". 

SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION 

Where to get help: 
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7) 
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7) 
• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234 (available 24/7) 
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7) 
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm) 
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7) 
• Anxiety helpline: 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY) (available 24/7) 
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.