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Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 17:23 UK

Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary

Sonia Mkoloma (Litmus Images)
By Sonia Mkoloma
England international defender and Brunel Hurricanes captain

Hi all… It's been a while but as you may have known I have spent the last six months in New Zealand competing in the Semi-professional Trans Tasman ANZ Championship for Suzuki Central Pulse.

It's all finished now and I have played against some of the world's best netballers and enjoyed every second of it.

This has definitely been one of the toughest leagues I have ever competed in. Each week I met quality opponents from Australia and New Zealand with nail-biting games and players showcasing their abilities and determination.

My favourite game was when we took on the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in round two.

It was a very defensive game, with loads of interceptions and my team were able to keep within five goals against a star-studded Silver Fern line up.

People have also asked me who was my hardest opponent; I can honestly say that every Goal Attack I played against put out fine performances, so it's hard to pick out anyone in particular.

Since being here in Wellington, I have really enjoyed the way the media are so supportive of women in sports and the way that all the games were televised.

Sonia Mkoloma in action for the Pulse
Sonia Mkoloma in action for the Pulse against Melbourne Vixens

There were great pre game lead-ups, analysis and the commentary was on point… these people really knew their netball. All the teams also had great sponsorships from video i-pods, phones and even cars - I loved my Suzuki Swift, good old Swifty!

I also loved the way breakfast shows and sports shows alike got behind all the teams and regularly had girls appearing on their shows.

Although my team had a tough season, I was recognized for my efforts and awarded joint ANZ Championship MVP (Most Valuable Player) as voted by the coaches of each team!

This was presented after the Grand Finals - I know, how exciting was that for me?! I definitely didn't see that one coming.

On the topic of MVP's, Amanda Newton one of my closest friends, netballing team mates and England captain, has retired from English Netball.

She has been an inspiration to me and everyone she plays with and has always given 100% out there on the court. I wish her all the best in all she goes on to do.

Before I leave you all, I want you to know that it wasn't all netball!

I admit to hitting the town a wee bit as well as working hard and I was also able to try new and exciting things like fulfilling one of my dreams of swimming with wild dolphins!

It was amazing and quite scary - being in the big ocean makes you realise how small you really are, and how important it is to make your mark in whatever you do.

I also went whale watching and saw a sperm whale and on a naughtier note, I went snow boarding which was great, apart from the fact that we got hit by a snow storm and trapped up the mountain for seven hours! Cold, scary stuff!

So finally, the past six months have given me back my enjoyment of competitive netball and I have learnt a lot, so I certainly won't be handing in my boots any time soon.

Love Sonia x

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see also
Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary
17 May 08 |  Netball
Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary
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Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary
07 Nov 07 |  Netball
Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary
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Sonia Mkoloma's diary
26 Apr 07 |  Netball
Sonia Mkoloma's diary
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Netball results
24 May 06 |  Netball

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