Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha Inspires at NHEHS Sports Awards
By Natasha B, Year 10 Journalist Leader
At this year’s NHEHS Sports Awards we were honoured to have netballing icon, Proscovia Peace-Nwokocha, present us with our awards and share some of her inspirational stories. Peace, who currently plays for Surrey Storm and is the captain of the Ugandan netball team, gave us a vitalising speech about her upbringing and career. I think it is an understatement to say that by the end of it we were all in awe of her.
Peace began talking about her life in Uganda as a child. She was one of 8 children and was born in the Aura district of Uganda. She described this place as “the poorest of the poor,” with herself and her family struggling to afford basic necessities of life. However, as she most so rightly pointed out, “being the poorest of the poor doesn’t define who you are.”
She discovered netball at the age of 12 and surprised us all by admitting at the time she was told she was “too tall” to play as she was taller than a specific height. This shocked many of us as usually it is the other way around for many players who find themselves too small. But she didn’t let her height hold her back. She trained for three years before she finally got the opportunity to properly play. She told us how that first time she got this opportunity, even though she was just on the bench, she felt so grateful. She then reminded anyone who plays a team sport that, “when you are in a team, you forget that some people just want to be there and I wanted to be there, just on the school team so I made sure I had the right attitude with no complaining.”
She recalled for us how she felt stepping on that netball court and how that feeling of joy sparked her to play with passion rather than panic. “When you are on the bench, “ she explained, “you think you have a point to prove and you panic. You think the coach is looking at you but the coach isn’t thinking what you are thinking.” This is why she always plays with passion and enjoyment and doesn’t worry about whether coaches are “watching her” or not. She further reminded us how she believes that “everyone gets a different opportunity to start.” She got her first opportunity at 16 so it is never too late to start especially if you have the right attitude and passion for your sport.
Peace trained every day despite being told that netball couldn’t get her anywhere. Where she lived, there were no professional netballers and no-one she could follow in the footsteps of so she kept playing for enjoyment, not for a reward. She told us how times got very tough for her family after her aunt died and how she struggled to pay her school fees. Then she received an offer to play for a NIC Netball club in Kampala. From this she was selected to play for the national team, before being spotted by some universities who gave her an opportunity to continue her schooling and academic career. Peace came to England after the 2015 Netball World Cup qualifiers and became Africa’s top scorer. She then played for Loughborough Lightning and got a degree in Maths and Science. However, she reminded everyone that, “this would not have been possible without netball.”
Peace then went on to talk about some of the challenges she has faced. Her first one being peer pressure and how comparing yourself to others can be soul destroying. But nevertheless, “that is not my (her story).” If she had tried to be like everyone else, she would be nowhere today. Additionally, finances were a struggle as she never had a source of income. As well as this, Peace’s family weren’t initially aware of the benefits of netball and wanted to stop her playing. Peace had to overcome all of these obstacles and learned many valuable things from these hard times. “When your world comes crashing down, never give up as there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a purpose for your existence.” Another impactful thing Peace shared with us was how, “the worst thing you can do to yourself is live a life of comparison.” She used not being in the school A team as a prime example of this.
A big thank you to Peace for such an inspiring talk and answering all our questions. We look forward to following your continuing netballing successes!