Solihull’s Eboni Usoro-Brown says motherhood has given her greater motivation to succeed at next year’s Commonwealth Games with England, writes Jack Lacey.
This week marks one year until the 2022 games get under way in Birmingham, and Usoro-Brown, who played for Team Bath last season and reached the final of the Vitality Netball Superleague, will hope to be part of Head Coach Jess Thirlby’s England team aiming to retain the gold they won in 2018.
A lot has changed for the 33-year-old who became a mother for the first-time last year.
“The moment my daughter was born the balance shifted straight away from being an elite athlete more towards my home life, but in a positive way,” said Usoro-Brown, who has been capped over 100 times by England.
“Your priorities do get re-ordered as you move through life, but I think the main thing is I still love playing netball.
“It has been part of my identity for so long, and if I can inspire her as a young girl as she grows to play, and others it will be worth it.
“I’m not saying it hasn’t been tough. Some days the sleep deprivation makes it hard, but I have a great support network, particularly from England Netball.
“Just to have the opportunity to make myself available (for selection) after having a baby last year, is a huge personal goal for me.”
Usoro-Brown will be one of the more experienced members of the squad, should she step out onto court in Birmingham, having made her debut back in 2008.
England will have several younger stars aiming to win gold next year, and she knows the importance of helping them through the whirlwind of a major tournament.
“You have to pass on the experience and advice you have built up. I remember my first Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Sonia Mkloma (now assistant coach) was one of the starting seven,” added Usoro-Brown, whose performances on the court have helped to attract 160,000 women to play netball or more netball following the World Cup in 2019 in Liverpool, with 125,000 women having also now returned to the sport through England Netball’s highly successful Back to Netball programme.
“I remember her putting her arm around me and trying to calm my emotions.
“Also, the importance of taking it all in, which as a youngster you can sometimes easily miss.
“I am very much duty bound to pass on that knowledge and help the young ones now. One of our ambitions from 2018 was to build a legacy.
“We want to give the young one’s confidence and get them excited about it, creating that perfect team environment.
“It not only pushes competition, but hopefully it means England netball are in safe hands for years to come.”
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