It is a tale that will go down in netball folklore forever – Melbourne Vixens taking a premiership home to Victoria after being relocated for months on end as COVID-19 halted the state almost entirely.
The club, along with every other non-Queensland based franchise, packed up its bags and arrived to South East Queensland where they’d spend four months playing weekends and mid-weekgames.
Finally, on Saturday 1 May, the Vixens unfurled the 2020 premiership banner in front of a pumped John Cain Arena ready for a grand final rematch.
The star of the grand final Mwai Kumenda was back. After the retirements of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Phillip, ‘MJ’ as she is known around the club was to start in Goal Shooter – ready to recreate her grand final heroics.
In a tough game, MJ’s hands and athletic split were highlights in a tough fought loss, but she was able to reflect on the season that was.
“I think sometimes things just happen in sport, you can’t expect to win all the time but last year it was just good for us. We worked as a team and wanted to win this because we’ve had a hard 2020,” MJ told The Inner Sanctum.
“It was a tough game, it was new for me because I’ve never played in a grand final. When you’re playing with a big shooter [like Fowler] it’s so hard you just need to keep possession of the ball every time you have it. ”
“It took me a long time to believe that we won like it took me a couple of weeks because I was like did we win, I kept asking Simone [Simone McKinnis] ‘ did we win this game?’
“It was good for me and also for my country [of Malawi] because I’ve never won things like that. Winning that big cup it’s a big achievement for me.”
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It was a special win for the Vixens and Victoria as everyone back home was in lockdown, but the Vixens weren’t the only ones to bring back the Premiership for their home state.
With the Richmond Football Club, Melbourne Storm and the Southside Flyers all winning their respective premierships alongside the Vixens in a year where Victoria did it tough.
“After the pandemic last year it was good to get it for Victoria. It was good because each sport was able to win for Victoria so that was good for Victoria after the lockdown,” MJ continued.
Kumwenda was crowned the MVP for the match but when asked she was very quick to thank the team around her.
“I didn’t believe that I could win that MVP because everyone in our team played very well so I didn’t expect that,” she said.
“I just wanted to thank the girls because without them there I couldn’t win that award it was all about teamwork. I just wanted to thank the girls and the coaches.”
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