Sonia Mkoloma steps into new role as Roses Pathway Head Coach

England Netball has announced the appointment of Sonia Mkoloma as the new Roses Pathway Head Coach, overseeing the Future Roses Programme and the Roses Academy.

Mkoloma has worked as the Vitality Roses Assistant Coach since June 2021 and been an integral part of the coaching team who have led the Roses to unprecedented levels of success over the past few years including the history-making silver medal at the Netball World Cup in 2023.

The new role sees Mkoloma take on the responsibility of developing the most talented athletes and preparing them for future Roses success. She will continue to work closely with Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby and with Netball Super League (NSL) clubs to ensure there is alignment between the Roses Pathway, the NSL Pathway and the Roses programme.

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England Netball Director of Performance David Parsons said: “We’ve seen from the recent progression into the Roses made by athletes such as Funmi Fadoju, Ellie Rattu, Liv Tchine, Berri Neil, Alicia Scholes and others, and the impact they have had on the court, how important it is that we continue to prepare our most talented and highest potential players for the specific demands of international netball.

I’m delighted that Sonia is taking on this new role that will lead the programmes that support athletes across both the Future Roses Programme and the Roses Academy. Sonia has a playing experience that few can match and has made a significant contribution to some historic successes for the Roses in recent years, including reaching last year’s Netball World Cup Final for the first time in South Africa. The athletes that she will be working with will get real insight into what it takes to be successful at the top of the game. As part of her new role, Sonia will continue to be present from time-to-time in the Roses environment, and I’m sure her existing relationship with Jess, as Roses Head Coach, will ensure that there is continuity and alignment between the Pathway and senior team.

We’re looking forward to boosting our coaching resources by recruiting a new Roses Assistant Coach and Assistant Coaches to the Future Roses and Roses Academy Programmes in the coming months.”

With a wealth of experience both representing and coaching the national side, Mkoloma is well-positioned to make a significant impact on the Roses Pathway. Her playing career included 15 years representing the Vitality Roses, during which time she earned 123 international test caps making her the third most capped Roses player behind Jade Clarke and Geva Mentor. Mkoloma also represented the Vitality Roses at three Commonwealth Games and five Netball World Cups, including in 2015 where she played her final game for the Vitality Roses winning a bronze medal against Jamaica.

Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby added: “For Sonia to step into this new role will help provide continuity and alignment with the ambition of the Roses as we strive to achieve more success on the world stage. Sonia will help oversee and prepare our best young talent for the transition into the Roses programme and knows first-hand from her time as Vitality Roses Assistant Coach what is needed to be ‘Roses ready’. This insight, along with her playing and coaching experience make Sonia well placed to nurture the exciting young talent we have in this country. I’d like to thank Sonia for all that she has contributed to within the Roses programme and look forward to us both continuing to work closely with each other.”

Mkoloma’s first experience with the Vitality Roses’ coaching team began when she was appointed England Netball Assistant Coach for a development tour in October 2019 to Australia and New Zealand, and as part of the coaching team for the UK-based 2020 Vitality Netball Nations Cup. She then transitioned to the role of Vitality Roses Assistant Coach in June 2021.

Mkoloma said: “I am excited about the challenge ahead and I am looking forward to getting officially started in this new role. I will be getting eyes across England’s emerging talent and will continue to build open channels of communication with more Pathway coaches. I am particularly looking forward to preparing with and leading a group of talented athletes at the Netball World Youth Cup 2025 in Gibraltar.”

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