Mwawi Kumwenda in narrow miss
Malawi National Netball Team icon Mwawi Kumwenda has narrowly missed her Australian club Melbourne Vixens’ 2021 Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, losing by three votes to her captain Kate Moloney.
Moloney claimed the award with 67 votes against Kumwenda’s 64, the Malawian’s highest finish in the accolade since joining Vixens in 2017.
Kumwenda, who won the 2020 Grand Final MVP award, has made the achievement despite starting pre-season training late due to Covid travel complications.
The former Diamonds prolific shooter spent a fortnight in hotel quarantine but led a new-look shooting circle with her usual commitment and passion after coming out.
The 31-year-old played almost every minute of the 14 Suncorp Super Netball games, scoring 460 goals at 87 percent.
This included 40 out of 78 Super Shot attempts, the third-highest in the league. Kumwenda also pulled in 34 rebounds.
Vixens Coach Simone McKinnis said Kumwenda was a dangerous player and a key element of their attacking formation.
“MJ [as Kumwenda is known in Australia] was our main target in there. She took the bulk of the shooting. She was under enormous pressure each game. She had defenders doubling up on her because she’s so dangerous and such a key element of our shooting circle.
“She can shoot two-pointers but that’s not necessarily her role; but she took that on for the team, too, and backed herself for the two points, which was great,” McKinnis told Vixens’ website.
Following the retirement of Tegan Philip and Caitlin Thwaites at the end of 2020, Kumwenda had limited time before the season began to build combinations with the incoming pair of Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer.
McKinnis said Kumwenda’s experience was also helpful in supporting and encouraging her teammates.
“A lot of it was happening out on court in the moment. But MJ’s an experienced player, she’s a senior player, and it was really good for her leadership, as well, because she had to be the one supporting and helping and encouraging those around her and being the one that stands up amongst all the mess,” she said.
Kumwenda said she is motivated to do well in the 2022 season.
“The 2021 season was tricky to us as a Vixens family. But it’s an honour to walk away with this award. We will come back strong and lift the title again.
“My vote of thanks goes to my fellow players and the coach. We are a family. The fans were also amazing and everyone played their part,” she said.