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We are mums. We are defending Super League champions: Mary Cholhok on raising her son alongside a thriving netball career

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a journey, but Mary Cholhok can finally say that she feels complete.

During the 2023 season last year, the 27-year-old Ugandan announced that she has brought her son Jackson to live with her in the UK after three long years.

Jackson previously lived in Uganda alongside Cholhok’s mother as the netballer established her thriving Netball Super League career at Loughborough Lightning, but the goal shooter is overjoyed that she can now continue to raise her son in England.

At seven years old, Jackson has already become a regular at training and attended his first Netball Super League game in Round 13 of the 2023 season as Loughborough Lightning took victory over Strathclyde Sirens – an emotional moment for Cholhok who used to dream about her son watching her play.

“The first thing we did when he came over was to go on a long walk and he also loves to shop so I got him lots of toys,” she said.

“We had a lot of big cuddles, and we couldn’t be separated the first few days, I felt so happy.

“He’s now got some friends at school and is now coming around training because one of our coaches, Olivia Murphy, has a son and Lauren Nicholls has a daughter as well so they can play together.

“We’re now trying to implement bringing your kids to training a lot more and normalising motherhood in netball.

“This is something that is part of a woman’s life, and we need to create that structure.

“We have a side court where the kids can play at training so they can be involved and aren’t stuck at home.

“Watching what we do also gives them the opportunity to see what their mothers are doing and growing up watching strong women.

“I’ve also always wanted to have that family atmosphere at a game and this now means the world to me.”

It was an emotionally and mentally taxing journey for Cholhok to get Jackson over to the UK at the start of last year, and the goal shooter is eternally grateful for the support she received from Loughborough Lightning and her boyfriend in making her dream come true.

Cholhok now wakes up every day with the knowledge that she can see her son’s smile over the breakfast table, and that her family is finally complete.

“It was a hard journey trying to get him here and it was tough on us,” she said.

“I didn’t have the network and support that I do a few years ago and finally having that has made sure that I’m really happy over here.

“I’ve been wanting this for years; it’s been tough mentally not having him here but now I have a lot of joy and I can now focus on my career knowing that I’m complete and I have everything I need.

“I used to have to jump on a video call or phone call with him and my mum every day when we could, because the network over there is not great.

“But it was a big juggle to make sure he wasn’t in school when I called and before he went to sleep without disrupting his structure.

“Getting him over here has been crazy and this is where Loughborough Lightning has helped me with support mentally and financially and my boyfriend has been a big help as well.

“Now that he’s here we’re just embracing every minute.”

 

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A post shared by Cholhok Mary Nuba (@marynubas2)

When Jackson arrived, Cholhok took to Instagram to announce her joyous news and received a flurry of supportive comments from notable figures within the netball world.

The Lightning attacker now hopes that her story can help create a larger family-led narrative within the sport and allow other mothers to reunite with their loved ones.

“It was really overwhelming to see how many people came out to share love with my post and it was really inspirational,” she said.

“I did not expect people to react that way, but it just proves that people just want you to be happy.

“Other players have really supported me through it and the NSL is such a family in that.

“I’m not the only international mother in the Super League and it’s time we now look to see how we can make people happy by bringing their family over to support them.

“It’s mentally tough to be far away from family and going to a new country so I’m really happy to have my family here now.

“A happy athlete gives happy results and family is really important to that.”


#SeeUsNow: Fierce. Ambitious. Unapologetic. We are the Netball Super League, and we will be seen. We lead the way in more ways than one. There is so much more to the league, our clubs and our players and we are going to tell the stories that need to be heard this season. If you enjoyed hearing more about Mary’s story don’t forget to follow the NSL on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as keeping up with all the latest news and exclusive content by signing up to the NSL newsletter here.

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