Ama Agbeze

Former England netball captain and proud Brummie, Ama Agbeze doesn’t stand still. She has media work, non-exec director and trustee roles as well as her work as a solicitor and motivational speaker. While rewarding, none comes close to the Commonwealth Games gold medal win in 2018, which she’ll be reliving when she’s 90

If you didn’t watch the 2018 Commonwealth Games final in which England triumphed over Australia, what the heck were you doing? It was tear-jerking, pride-inducing, an epic match and sporting moment that will go down in history. England captained by Ama Agbeze were brave and brilliant.

Participation in netball rocketed after their win and it’s something Ama will cherish. She says when she thinks back and visualises that match it’s almost like watching the action unfold from above. She explains: “I love that moment. With the final, the last bit feels like a drone watching from overhead. It was the culmination of years of hard work. When I’m 90, I’ll still have that feeling. It warms my heart.”

Going back a bit, it’s quite remarkable that Ama played for England at this level at all as she was dropped from the team, told she wasn’t very good and that her age was an issue. She was 30 at the time. Ama says she thought long and hard about whether to carry on but eventually made the decision to travel to Australia and play in their second-tier development leagues – each state has its own league and the standard is comparable to the Birmingham League.

Ama excelled, winning player of the season among other accolades. It didn’t go unnoticed by the England set-up and selection followed. When she got the England call-up, she says: “I decided to come back even though they didn’t really want me. People were surprised.” Ama’s very matter-of-fact and not at all bitter. She says: “High performance sport is brutal. The reality is tough.”


Back in the England fold Ama became captain which she has mixed emotions about. “As a captain I tried to be more sensitive to other people. There’s very little time to give feedback during a match, so it has to be direct and specific.” With no time to sugar coat feedback, Ama says the coaching staff could be harsh as they tried to convey a message clearly and swiftly. Knowing the team and how different players dealt with that, Ama would pick up the pieces boosting the players that needed it.

She says: “One of my things is outcome focused. How can you get that person to play well? Make it about them. Occasionally I’d take people to one side. It was a difficult role, but I think I was good at it.” She adds: “It’s completely different from being just a player. You’re not part of the management team influencing decisions at that level and you’re not just a player. I think I learned to deal with it well.”


When Birmingham 2022 rolled around, Ama was initially disappointed not to be competing. She thought how special it would be to recreate the team’s success on the Gold Coast right here in front of a home crowd, but in the end, she was pleased not to be playing. It was a different experience, but Ama was involved in a way that allowed her to enjoy it and soak up the magnificence of the city in that magic fortnight.

Ama says: “To play at home in that environment would have been amazing. I was on the board of the organising committee, so I felt part of it. I wouldn’t change it now. As an athlete you don’t always get to attend the opening and closing ceremonies depending on your playing and recovery schedule. It’s essentially sleep, eat and train.” Ama had media work around the Games for the BBC as well as her organising committee role and was able to immerse herself in the atmosphere. She says: “The festival that ran alongside the games celebrating the arts as well as sport was magnificent for the city.”


Passionate about the legacy of the Games, Ama is keen to shout down the argument that that hosting them contributed to the financial failures of the city council, which is blatantly untrue. She says inward investment thanks to the Games has been huge as well as increased jobs and apprenticeships. She says: “We fought to keep £70million in the region as well as equipment which has gone to local schools and clubs.” She also says that it’s testament to Birmingham that we already had facilities so didn’t need to start from scratch, such as Alexander Stadium.

Ama’s also passionate about getting kids into sport and recognises that we have a problem nationally. She says: “Sport is seen as an add-on with PE once or twice-a-week. It should almost be as important as maths or science. It enables a child to be so much more, boosting physical as well as mental wellbeing. We need to give children the opportunity to thrive.”


While Ama has naturally found it difficult moving on from the niche world of professional sport, she’s busy and loves the variety of her many roles, some sport-related, many not – global head of Inclusion at BUPA for instance.

Spending most of her time in Birmingham, Ama has a husband from New Zealand who’s living in Norway, so she travels a lot too. While she hasn’t completely ruled out coaching in the future, she doesn’t see it on the horizon although she does talk of a potential shake-up of the netball super league which could create a Birmingham franchise.