Playing netball professionally required a significant sacrifice for Mary Cholhok.

The 27-year-old goal shooter moved to the UK in 2018 but visa restrictions meant her young son Jackson had to stay with her mother in Uganda. She spent much of her time questioning her decision to move - but five years on, the 2024 Netball Super League will finally see Jackson supporting from the courtside.

"Everything just makes sense now that he's here," Cholhok said. "When I moved here without him, it was a lot for me to deal with.

“So I just feel a lot more fulfilled having him here. It is just beautiful."

Loughborough Lightning will be defending their Super League title in 2024, having beaten London Pulse in the 2023 final. Their second match of the season was an encounter with Team Bath.

Cholhok, who has represented Uganda in two World Cups and helped the team achieve a fifth-place finish at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, spent three years apart from Jackson. Despite the joy of their reunion, there was also plenty of time spent battling her "mum guilt".

"It was always in the back of my mind, always worried and always thinking about him," Cholhok added.

"I knew he was safe, he was with my mum looking after him, but I was always questioning - am I doing the right thing? Should he be here with me? But now he's here, I know that it definitely was worth the sacrifice."

Cholhok's childhood was full of obstacles of its own. She arrived in Uganda as a refugee from South Sudan aged just six and discovered netball in secondary school, becoming pregnant before her end-of-school exams.

She said that her life has been like chaos and then blessing, then chaos, then blessing" - with Jackson's arrival in the UK the latest blessing in that timeline. Cholhok says that Jackson is thriving and enjoying school, but if she and her partner ever struggle for childcare, he is able to come to training and play on the sidelines during the team's sessions.

"Having that support is so important, because raising a child takes a village," she said. "It's the little things that make a big difference - being conscious of mothers' schedules, making sure they know that they don't feel like they have to keep that part of their life separate from their sport.

"In those times where I didn't know if it would be worth it, I now know that I am inspiring a lot of other mothers and showing that it is possible to balance it all and I think that's a beautiful thing.

"There are a lot of mums in sport now, a lot in netball, and it's beautiful to see that being embraced, having a career alongside motherhood."