Sacrifices for Superleague – We speak to Joyce Mvula

Ahead of tomorrow’s game with Mavericks, and as she’s named in the Malawi Queens squad for the Commonwealth Games, Thunder’s Denise Evans and Cassie Nunn-Price spoke to Joyce Mvula.

It’s not often the UK is described as ‘heaven’.

But for Malawian Manchester Thunder shooter Joyce Mvula, a move to a big city in Europe from her far less cosmopolitan beginnings in Africa, has brought her a life of privilege and experiences.

It’s been a huge cultural – and personal – change for the 23-year-old, who left behind her young son and fiancé to play in the Superleague.

Mvula said: “Some people in Malawi see that you’re in the UK and think that you’re in heaven.

“I miss my family a lot but it’s a great achievement to be here.”

The climate has also taken some getting used to, but Mvula is acutely aware that the positives far out-weigh the lack of sun.

And Mvula clearly has the support of her loved ones back home, but even she may sometimes question them likening her life in the UK to some kind of paradise, following a gruelling training session or two weeks of solid rain – compared to an average 24 degrees in Malawi.

But it’s an opportunity she could not miss, with the sponsorship and financial rewards, along with the chance to play with some of the most experienced players in the league.

“Netball in England and netball in Malawi is very different, so they can see that I have changed a lot, that I’m copying from England,” Mvula said.

Now in her second season with the Black and Yellows, Mvula is really starting to see improvements in her game, which leaves her ideally placed to hit top form in time for the Commonwealth Games in Australia later this month and the second half of the Superleague season upon her return.

The Malawi Queen is clear about where she wants to improve her game, saying: “I want to be aggressive in training and matches.

“When coming home [from training] you can feel that you have done the training, so there have been improvements.

“I want to first help the team make the play-offs and then hopefully win the Superleague.”

Loughborough Lightning’s shooter Peace Proscovia is currently the poster girl for African netball and was named in the 2017 Superlague All-Star team, after she helped fire her side to the Grand Final.

But if Mvula, continues her excellent start to the Superleague season (she was named Player of the Match in the pair’s head-to-head last month) and has a strong tournament on the Gold Coast, Proscovia may need to start looking over her shoulder.