Peace Proscovia - changing the world through netball
Netball changed Peace Proscovia’s life.
The superstar goal shooter was never meant to leave her small village in Uganda, she was never meant to get a university degree either, but now she captains her country, is studying a Masters degree and is a powerful symbol of what can be achieved through sport.
Her plight could have been very different.
“Netball is a sport that has provided everything for me,” Proscovia told GC2018.com.
“There is nothing I lack in this world and that is all thanks to netball.
“I wouldn’t have known the world outside my own village without netball.
“I look at netball like a pillar to lean on, all that I am today is because of netball.”
Growing up in the Arua District in the West Nile of Uganda, Proscovia’s parents were unemployed and could not afford to pay her education fees.
It was a predicament that far too many young children find themselves in. Girls in her village were looked at as nothing more than marriage material.
Some didn’t even make it to secondary school, because they were already ‘big’ girls.
“Where I come from, when you grow up you are expected to be married,” she said.
“I don’t think this scenario is in only my place, this happens in a typical African country.
“Girls are seen as marriage material, not people of value.
“The same thing was meant to happen to me, but I had to stand my ground and tell my family that I can do this, I have to take this opportunity. It was rejected, but I disobeyed my parents and left home to go to the city.
“It was very hard, but I prospered in the city, I worked hard and didn’t do anything wrong and when I came back I was looked at as an icon in the village.
“When I got exposed to the city I got to go to university without paying any fees, which was a hard thing for the community to believe. They got to know the importance of sports and the value of sports, especially netball being a dominant women’s sport.
“Where I came from, women could not play football, women could not play basketball, women could not play rugby.
“Now several girls have got the opportunity to go to the city to play netball.”
Proscovia became the first African to play in the English Netball Superleague. Her journey to England - where she earned further opportunities to study a Masters degree in marketing - opened her eyes to the endless possibilities available in the world.
It is a message she shares whenever she can.
Her position as the captain of Uganda – which she has held since 2013 - is a tremendous honour but also gives her an incredible platform to make a difference and allows her to empower women.
“They are very innocent girls who need role models, to identify the darkest side of their lives, to provide light to them,” Proscovia said.
“They are not seeing the dark side of their life, because they don’t have the knowledge. These girls are going through challenges that can be overcome through vast opportunities in netball.
“The girls face lots of cultural, social and financial pressures and it leads to misery, but if they are aware of how netball can transform their life, then they would not be taken by those pressures.
“Netball should be seen as a tool for sustainable development.
“They need people to encourage them, it is not just for them either. By empowering these girls, the community sees huge benefits.
“It is important to let the world know, there are so many girls with talent and they need to know that there are things they can do.
“I’ve seen a massive transformation in my own country.”
While Proscovia has been busy making an impact off the court, she has been making an equally strong statement on it.
The 192cm goal shooter was the leading scorer in the Superleague in 2017 with a whopping 812 goals. She spearheaded Loughborough Lightning to the Grand Final and was voted both the Player of the Season and the Players’ Player.
Proscovia also captained Uganda to an undefeated 2017 season culminating in winning the Africa Championship.
It’s no fluke.
The motivated shooter works tirelessly to improve her game, making 700 successful shots a day. That doesn’t include the ones she misses.
The dedication to constantly get better has helped drive her country forward.
She’s had that drive since before she even made her debut for her country in 2008. The rise of Proscovia has been mirrored by the national team, who have climbed up the world rankings from 15th to seventh in the past three years.
“It has been one of the biggest honours of my life to captain Uganda,” she said.
“I have to keep working and always remain positive. I have to keep working on my weak side, that’s what I do every single day.
“It has been a great achievement in netball in that country and that achievement is helping market the sport in my country.
“The whole country getting to see that Uganda has a talent in netball has really helped the country a lot.
“Competing at the Commonwealth Games is a massive achievement for the country of Uganda as a developing country. It is a time for people to utilise the opportunity and be exposed to the world. There are so many players who have never been exposed to the outside world.”
Uganda will have to overcome the might of powerhouse countries England and New Zealand if they are to advance through to the semifinals, but it is a challenge that Proscovia and her teammates are embracing.
“Anything below the sun is possible,” she said.
“We have to stay positive as a team. This is the message I give to the girls, there is nothing different that our opposition are doing that we are not doing. Stay positive, go into the game composed but most importantly enjoy the game of netball.
“Netball is all about enjoyment and exploring all the opportunities.
“I know we will come up against big countries, but we just need to stay composed, like any normal game we’ve played.
“It’s important to have fun and enjoy the opportunity.”
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