Compare the Pair: Towera Vinkhumbo and Eboni Usoro-Brown

AS the off-season continues, Rookie Me Central will return to a regular Compare the Pair series; delving into, and analysing two fan favourites from different competitions. We compare and contrast a couple of impressive defenders, focusing on Towera Vinkhumbo and Eboni Usoro-Brown, who boast very different attributes despite playing the same position.

Malawi-logoMalawi, Sirens-logoSirensGoal Defence, Goal Keeper

Towera Vinkhumbo

Height: 175cm

Weight: -

DOB: 14-02-1991

Vinkhumbo is no stranger to the spotlight, with the Malawi defender well and truly stepping up in 2021 for the Strathclyde Sirens. One of the most explosive and fleet-footed players in the Vitality Netball Superleague this season, the goal keeper was a force to be reckoned with at every turn credit to her continuous hunt and ability to cleanly gain possession. With a terrific burst of speed and evasiveness to come rocketing for the cross-court ball out of nowhere, Vinkhumbo was a huge addition to the Sirens squad and a real contributor to their success during 2021. One of the attributes that makes Vinkhumbo such an impressive defender is her smarts under pressure, able to pick when to fly for an intercept and when to hold back and defend the shot. While Vinkhumbo is not the tallest defender – especially for a goal keeper – she has an excellent vertical leap which she uses to her advantage on the shot and one-on-one, able to block vision with her great reach.

England-logoEngland, Firebirds-logoFirebirdsGoal Defence, Goal Keeper

Eboni Usoro-Brown

Height: 186cm

Weight: -

DOB: 04-02-1988

A tenacious ball-hunter with quick feet and smarts to match, Usoro-Brown has been a Team Bath stalwart for a number of years and is set to head to Australia for the Suncorp Super Netball in 2022. The newfound Queensland Firebirds defender is renowned for her long reach and strength, able to body up with ease in the goal circle and have an impact both on and off the ball by limiting opposition movement. With a great wingspan and smooth movement, Usoro-Brown is able to evade the whistle with her quick thinking under pressure to adjust seamlessly to the situation at hand. While she is typically a lockdown defender, Usoro-Brown can also move off the body to impact elsewhere in defence with well-timed deflections. The England Roses defender is a really reliable option in the last line of defence, and can be counted on to have a continuous impact even if she is not producing the flashy intercepts.

First, let’s take a look at the comparisons between the two defenders – namely their primary position, reliability and experience. Both players boast a wealth of experience that allows them to play with a certain level of composure even in high stakes scenarios, with international caps for their respective nation showcasing just how impressive their respective workrates are. Both players sit back in goal keeper for the most part, and although they can also move out to goal defence where required, their high-impact nature is best suited to the last line of defence. Factor in their respective ability to be a consistently imposing figure down back, and both players have plenty of comparisons.

The contrasts between Vinkhumbo and Usoro-Brown is where things get particularly interesting, with the two playing very different styles. Where Vinkhumbo opts for a zone-type defence to fly at the ball, Usoro-Brown is better suited to the one-on-one, negating her opposition entirely to allow others to step up around her. Both have great endurance but use it in different ways, with Usoro-Brown whittling down her opposition while Vinkhumbo contributes with bursts of speed. The two defenders also play significantly different roles because of their differing heights, with Usoro-Brown standing more than 10cm taller than Vinkhumbo and using that extra height to reach over the shot. In turn, she does not quite have the same elevation on the leap that the Malawian boasts, but can get around it with her long wingspan.

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