Victorian Fury shooter Mwai Kumwenda has created history by becoming the first international player to win the Australian Netball League’s Most Valuable Player award.
In her debut season in the competition, Kumwenda set a new goalscoring record on her way to winning the prestigious individual award and enhancing her reputation as one of the brightest talents in world netball.
Kumwenda, who is from Malawi, polled 38 votes from the Fury’s 10 matches to win the award by five from up-and-coming Victorian Flames shooter Alice Teague-Neeld.
Kumwenda was presented with the award after starring in the Fury’s ANL five-goal Grand Final victory over the NNSW Waratahs in Adelaide by Australian Diamonds star Erin Bell.
Kumwenda said she was honored to receive the accolade.
“I’m so excited to win the MVP,” Kumwenda said. “Let me thank the other girls because, without them, I couldn’t win this award.”
The 24-year-old is the third Fury player to take out the ANL MVP award since the competition began back in 2008, joining fellow shooters Kathleen Knott (2009) and Karyn Howarth (nee Bailey, 2011) as winners.
Victorian players dominated the award’s top five vote getters with new Melbourne Vixens signing Caitlyn Strachan (Fury) a further vote back in third and Flames defender Emily Mannix fourth. Queensland Fusion’s Stephanie Wood rounded out the top five.
Kumwenda shot 461 goals at 95.4 per cent accuracy for the season to break the previous total of 370 set by her current teammate Simone Nalder when she was playing with the AIS in 2010.
She shot 394 goals at 94.3 per cent accuracy in the regular season before adding hauls of 29 and 38 in the weekend’s Finals action.
Fury coach Stacey West said Kumwenda had been outstanding both on and off the court this season.
“Mwai has adjusted beautifully to the Victorian netball environment,” West said.
“She has contributed massively in her volume of shooting but also in her character and personality and professionalism to the sport.
“I know that Mwai has got a fantastic future ahead of her.”
Kumwenda has spent the past three years playing at State League level in Victoria and has been part of the Malawi Queens line-up since 2010. She will be part of their side for the upcoming Test matches against the Australian Diamonds in Wollongong (October 16) and Gold Coast (October 19).
“I’m looking forward to playing against Australia because they are a tough team and we will try our best,” Kumwenda said.
Votes for the MVP are awarded by both coaches at the end of each game on a 3-2-1 basis. They are allowed to vote for their own players.
ANL MVP TOP 5 VOTEGETTERS
Mwai Kumwenda (Victorian Fury) 38 votes
Alice Teague-Neeld (Victorian Flames) 33
Caitlyn Strachan (Victorian Fury) 32
Emily Mannix (Victorian Flames) 26
Stephanie Wood (Queensland Fusion) 24