The Jamaican import had plenty to contend with when she set up home in Manchester. Of course, there was leaving behind her family and the sunshine and tropical climates for snow and rain. It was a also a huge culture change for the defender, but one that she embraced with the same amount of passion and commitment she shows on court. Mally threw herself into life in the UK, immersing herself into the Manchester social and cultural scene. And then there was the Superleague style of play, under an Aussie coach in Dan Ryan, to get to grips with. What we saw was a series of match-winning intercepts, dominance of some of the top shooters in the league and a naturally aggressive Jamaican flare that has made the Sunshine Girls so successful on the world netball stage.
We caught up with Mally following her return to the Caribbean for the summer, as she reveals her hopes for returning to the Manchester Thunder fold for a second shot at the tile in 2017, how she dealt with homesickness, what it was like playing at the Copper Box and things she learned from her Black and Yellows team mates.
My first season in the VNSL was pretty awesome. I had a great season, my team had a great season. It was amazing to see the growth evolve within and among teammates gameplay and results each week.
What are the biggest positives and negatives you will take from the season?
My biggest positive is definitely being able to adapt easily with the differences around me and being able to just focus on playing and making a positive presence on and off court. My negative would definitely be not being able to take it all the way home with losing that final match.
What did you learn about your own game, from your Thunder team mates?
I really did learn a lot from playing with thunder this season. Some of which includes, my different preparation for different matches. Getting in that game mood no matter what is going on around me and how I am feeling on a specific game day. Being able to work with the girls no matter who I am playing with. Being a consistent player at the back as the GK. Having a quicker feet movement as a GK. Creating plays and reading plays more accurately.
How did you find playing in England, different to Jamaica?
Playing in England is definitely different from playing in Jamaica. Other than the obvious different style of play, netball in Jamaica is a summer sport so we play all club matches outdoor. It was different playing indoors all season.
What was your highlight of the season?
My highlight of the season was playing in front of a massive crowd both at the Manchester arena and the Copper Box… very exciting.
You have been living away from home, how have you handled any homesickness and controlled it?
I didn’t really encounter much homesickness, I did have a little midseason. It did affected one game a little. When I realized that it did, after speaking to friends and family back home with reassurance I overcame it. Thank God for technology as this helped in a lot of ways where communication is concerned.
What motivates you to train and play the most?
My motivation comes with the love of the game. I love to see development and that is what pushes me. I have a great supporting family and the people around me are very supportive and I always want to make them proud. I also had first experience of wanting to play and couldn’t, so I make every use of the opportunity that I get to play because I don’t know when it will be taken away from me.
Are you planning to come back for a second season?
I would definitely like to come back next season.
How was it working under Dan Ryan?
Working under Dan Ryan was pretty amazing. He was very supportive of me fitting in as he had worked with other imports before. Made it easy for me to feel belonged. Had good one on one sessions which improved my skills and foot work mainly. Was very approachable, made good decisions and good advice where needed. Even with the accent barrier communications and instructions where clear. Feedbacks and improvements were remarkable.
How did you find living in Manchester?
Living in Manchester was not what I had expected it to be. When they said rained a lot I did not anticipate so much rain. First-hand experience of the bipolar weather, there was sunshine, rain, hail and snow in one hour. The city was amazing with all the culture it offers. I absolutely loved all the different types of food I tried. When we had good weather it was nice to see so many people which I did not anticipate living in Manchester. Even though I didn’t not go to a live football match I am now a converted Manchester United fan. Hopefully I can get to go to some games next season. I also went to my first live rugby game and tennis games. Really enjoyed those experiences.
Do you think the Superleague has improved your own game?
VNSL did improved my game as an individual. This is most I have played GK in a while, and I have learned a few things from doing so. I definitely became more confident playing at this position, I now feel like it’s my new position. I am now able to think more like a GK than just thinking as a GD playing as a GK. I am now able to move more agile in small spaces.
Would you recommend other players to come and play in the Superleague?
I would definitely recommend other players to come and play in the VNSL to get that first-hand experience and the competition needed to improve their individuality and game skills.
Thunder made the Grand Final in your debut season, if you came back, what would be your goals next season, both personal and for the team?
No doubt for my team the goal is to win the 2017 title as well as improve on what we started to build last season. And personally, having a fantastic season at both GD and GK..