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Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha

Image: Ben Lumley

When Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha found out she was pregnant, she knew telling Surrey Storm would not be easy.

The goal shooter was a lynchpin of the side aiming for top four and was looking forward to the Netball World Cup with Uganda when she discovered the happy news.

But while the conversation itself may have been hard, Peace-Nwokocha revealed that the support she was offered during her time off the court as well as on her return could not have been any better.

Now, the 34-year-old is relishing being back in action while balancing the demands of looking after her daughter.

“Having a child is something you don’t plan, you hope for it,” she said. “Especially for an athlete, most athletes are afraid of having children because of the fear of the future.

“When it happens, the question is what do you do? I have always wanted to be a mother and the best thing to happen to me was to get pregnant.

Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha

Image: Ben Lumley

“I had to declare it to the club that I am pregnant and I will not be able to finish the league, that was very painful. But on the flip side, being a mother is a privilege.

“Not everybody gets there so if you get the opportunity to have a child, you have to treasure it so I was very grateful that it happened.

“It has been wonderful getting back to playing. Sometimes the biggest worry you have when you are pregnant is whether you will come back, and when you come back how you are going to fit in. I am glad everything has been going on well.”

There are still relatively few players who give birth during their careers and return to court, but Peace-Nwokocha revealed the extra support afforded to her by Storm gave her the confidence to do just that.

“I got a lot of support from Storm. The only question was what could they do to help moving forward,” she said.

“They supported me a lot, kept me in the system so my brain was still engaged in netball even if I was physically not playing.

“When I came back, I first had to adhere to medical protocols of coming back as a mother. One of the wonderful things they did was to appoint me a pelvic floor specialist who worked hand-in-hand with me.

Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha

Image: Ben Lumley

“It was really helpful but it’s something that most mothers not in sport don’t know about.

“I was privileged to be in a position where a specialist was working with me to see that everything was okay.

“The truth is that nobody knows how they will come back from pregnancy. In the past, when people got pregnant they were removed from playing and nobody wanted to associate with them.

“With time, a few netballers have returned back to playing. At Storm, we had Hannah Knights and Sophia Candappa.

“They kept encouraging me and told me it was possible, I could bounce back after having a child if I wanted to. Seeing them there and seeing them perform gave me a lot of confidence.”

Motherhood is just the latest change in the goal shooter’s career that has never been short of a twist.

The Ugandan international initially struggled to convince those around her that a career in netball was viable, and was forced to endure some rocky roads on her way to the Netball Super League.

“I was born in an environment where there are no idols. Not like England where girls can see people succeeding in sport,” she added. “Nobody in my hometown had succeeded in sport.

“I was very passionate about sport and I ended up finding my identity in netball. I am being cheered by people when I was playing and that is where my happy place was.

“It took me four years to get an opportunity to play for my school but I still got it. I ended up being spotted by a club. They didn’t know how to access me because there was no way I was going to go to university based on my background.

“The biggest challenge was my family had never seen anyone come through sport, they didn’t know sport’s benefits. It is an environment where girls grow up to get married and nobody knows anything else.

“While I was there, my father had fear of where I was going and just decided I was not going. It was a battle and I just had to leave and go.

“Somebody has to take the risk, take that step for others to know that it is possible. I am glad I made it possible for somebody else.”

Her difficult journey to the top meant there was no one prouder on the sidelines watching Uganda at the Netball World Cup than Peace-Nwokocha.

Pregnancy meant she missed the first World Cup in Africa as a player, but she remained involved with the squad and believes the best is yet to come for the She Cranes.

“We are lucky to have a young generation of girls that have come up and developed very well,” she said. “I will always remember that World Cup because it is the year I gave birth to my child.

“I was involved in everything from the preparation to the end through phone calls, doing analysis, having meetings with players.

“I am really excited for the future of netball in Uganda because where we started from, you would not see the future but we built as a team and we fed off the sport continuing to grow in the country.

“It is possible that netball can do great things in our country.”

The latest episode of the #SeeUsNow series focuses all about Motherhood and Fertility and can be watched on the NSL YouTube channel featuring Peace-Nwokocha’s Uganda compatriot Mary Cholhok chatting on the sofa alongside Cardiff Dragons Nia Jones and Severn Stars’ Jo Trip and Niamh Cooper. Catch the full episode on the NSL YouTube channel here.

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