Towera Vinkhumbo “super excited for ending 2023 UK netball season with 2 awards”

* Proud of everyone who helped me — mostly teammates, coaches etc

* It has been a long journey. I trust God’s time

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi national netball team star, Towera Vinkhumbo has enjoyed a top form for the 2023 Vitality Netball Superleague in UK where playing for Strathclyde Sirens she has been voted as Player of the Season and Fans Player of the Season.


“Thanks to all who voted for me and everyone involved,” she said on her Twitter. “Super excited for ending 2023 UK netball season with 2 awards. Special thanks.”

On her Facebook account, she wrote: “Proud of everyone who helped me — mostly teammates, coaches etc. It has been a long journey. I trust God’s time.”

To which many netball enthusiasts — including her former playing mates and officials profoundly applauded her with Blantyre and Districts Netball Committee general secretary, Annie Hanjahanja commenting: “Wow! Congratulations Toby [Towera] for being voted Sirens Player of the Year and Fans Player of the Year. She is our product and we are proud of her.”

Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) technical director Sam Kanyenda, who has Towera on his sights ahead of the Netball World Cup next month, said: “She is a good player no wonder she has been impressive for her club. Towera alongside other foreign based players will help us during the 2023 Netball World Cup finals.”

Soon after making her mark in UK in the first-round of the season in 2021, Sky Sports honoured Towera for her exceptional talent in relation to other defenders who have made their mark such as Razia Quashie, Layla Guscoth, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Vinkhumbo’s own defensive partner, Emily Nicholl.

She was quoted as saying: “They don’t know I admire them. Sometimes I copy their skills” to which the Sky Sports wrote: “I cannot help smiling back. For, while the 30-year-old Malawian may see herself as some great imitator, who is inspired to keep transforming her own craft, in truth, there is no one quite like her.

“The defender combines exceptional athleticism with a great understanding of the game.”


Towera told Sky Sports that she is the ninth born of 11 children, whose sporting prowess runs through the Vinkhumbo veins as her late brother Aubrey Vinkhumbo was a leading defender for Mighty Wanderers Football Club in Malawi.

One of her sisters, Salome Vinkhumbo, is a football international, captaining the Scorchers in the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship.

She told the global media house, that is set to beam the Netball World Cup 2023 in South Africa, that her own athletic capabilities in both sports came alive during her teenage years — when at the tender age of 14, she was selected to represent her country in football — making her the youngest player ever in the squad.

Her netball calling came a few years later, when she was picked for the Malawi U21 team. Football, however, ended up becoming something of a side hustle for the national player, after the Malawi Football Association suspended international fixtures for their women’s side.


Sponsors subsequently abandoned ship, leaving Vinkhumbo’s talent and hunger wanting and she is quoted as saying: “That’s when my sister said may I should go and try my luck at netball,” and try Towera did and never looked back.

Under the tutelage of the giant of Malawian netball, late Griffin Saenda, the defender grew in strength and she told Sky Sports that while Saenda urged her to move on from football and trust her potential in netball, still she continued to stand up for both teams when called upon.

“‘Towera, we want you to come; can you just come and play for us this game? Then, you can go back to netball,'” Vinkhumbo fondly recalls the familiar approaches of the Malawi national football team coaches as told to Sky Sports.

“There were other girls who did the same, who were going for football and netball, but I think it is only me who has been able to do both sports at the national level.”


Sky Sports then moved on to discuss Towera’s impressive international netball career, saying “the geography of which, holds great importance for the Malawian, as she proudly lists off the three Commonwealth Games and three Netball World Cups, she has attended by date and location.

Sky Sports makes special mention of Malawi Queens famous 57-53 victory over New Zealand (the Silver Ferns) at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, saying it was a huge moment in the team’s history.

The interviewer said: “I could sense her pride at the mention of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a standout tournament for any Malawian. To the surprise of the world, the Queens dismantled a declining New Zealand team Ferns in truly glorious fashion, it remains as one of the sport’s greatest upsets.

“But while the superlatives poured down on a New Zealand in crisis following their Malawi meltdown, other lesser-known, remarkable moments were being made on the Gold Coast.

The famous win against New Zealand

“Vinkhumbo had successfully played in every game of the tournament just four months after giving birth to her first child.”

Towera is also on Wikipedia which chronicles her as having represented Malawi at 2010, 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games and at 2011, 2015 and 2019 Netball World Cups.

Wikipedia also takes note that she was also a member of the Queens that finished third at 2016 Fast5 Netball World Series and that in football she represented her country in the 2019 Netball World Cup and  also at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Football Championship and the 2020 Summer Olympic football qualifiers.

Also in 2021, EMMS — an NGO that works towards creating a climate change for girls in Malawi — made Towera its ambassador and invited her to visit Mulanje Mission Hospital where she shared her experiences.

She was quoted on the EMMS website as saying: “As a sportsperson, I’ve met a lot of challenges. I worked hard to have this opportunity to play professionally because representing my country makes me very happy. But I hadn’t appreciated the challenges girls face in rural Malawi today.”

She said this after EMMS took her on a tour of schools and clinics where girls as young as 14 were having babies; were missing out on education; were facing pressure from their families to marry and they are not being supported by the fathers of the babies.

She saw quoted as saying: “It was really sad to see young girls who are supposed to be at school but who are pregnant at the age of 14 years old. Then the fathers deny responsibility. It is very sad.

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“Instead of this kid finishing school, she’s taking care of the kids at home. If they marry, then often the dads only stay with them for a short period of time and then divorce. Then they have to go back to their parents and just spend their days at home.

“I had a sister. she died at the age of 17 year. She was pregnant at age 16 and went into labour after 7 months. The baby survived, but I lost my sister. I was 13 years old. My dad lost his daughter, and worried what the future would hold for his other young daughters.

“At Mulanje Mission Hospital I saw girls being given fresh opportunities. Young women who have babies are receiving vocational training in carpentry, welding and tailoring. Others are returning to school.”

On a positive note, Towera took cognizance that youth clubs are formed to encourage one another on how they can build their future, saying in their groups, “they learn how to avoid teenage pregnancy, how they can succeed in their education”.

“They plant vegetables and do poultry farming and use the money raised to buy school books, pens and pencils and share with one another.”

Thus she back the Climate of Change for Girls appeal, saying: “The demand for support among these young women is high. With more funds, many girls can be saved from early marriages and early pregnancies.

“These girls should be helped so that in the future they can start their own businesses, get jobs and be able to care for themselves and their young families.