England’s Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning captain and a Malawi international complete the line-up for Severn Stars’ main squad for the upcoming Vitality Netball Superleague season.
Ama Agbeze, who led the team that inspired the nation when they defeated favourites Australia to win the 2018 Games, and Towera Vinkhumbo, who has eight years’ international experience, both join Stars’ defensive line-up.
Agbeze said: “Since its inception the team has had a growth in its on court prowess, results and perception and I’m keen to join the team and contribute to that.”
Alongside their victorious Commonwealth Games gold medal, Agbeze captained England to gold at the Fast 5 contest in Melbourne in 2017. Playing first for her country in 2001, she has more than 100 caps; she was part of the national side that took home a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and came fourth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Agbeze played for Superleague side London Pulse last year. Before that she has played for Loughborough Lightning in 2016 and 2004-6, but also for teams in the southern hemisphere for a number of years, including Northern Stars, in New Zealand, in 2018 and Australia’s Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2017.
“My primary reasons in choosing Stars were Melissa [Bessell, Head Coach] and [Stars player] Liana Leota,” said the 36-year-old. “I’ve worked with both of them before and think they are great motivators, leaders and strong women. Add that to their ability around netball and you have a great environment to thrive.”
Looking to the season ahead, Agbeze, who is also a lawyer, motivational/public speaker and charity ambassador, said: “I have lots of experience that I hope I can share with those around me, but I am also keen to take a fresh look at things and mould to what’s best for this team.”
Like Agbeze, Vinkhumbo plays at goal defence and goal keeper.
“This is a great opportunity for my career,” said the 28-year-old, of Blantyre, Malawi. “I have a new family in Severn Stars, which will help me to acquire new skills and ideas. I am happy that I will be playing with skilled players and experienced players who will push me, some of whom I played against during international matches.”
Vinkhumbo has been playing in the Malawi national team since 2010, competing in the Commonwealth Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018. More recently, she represented the Malawi Queens at the World Cup in Liverpool in the summer, who went on to win silver at the Africa Netball Cup last month. This will be her first season in the Vitality Netball Superleague.
Agbeze and Vinkhumbo join a Stars line-up which includes New Zealand star Liana Leota, Welsh internationals Nia Jones, Bethan Dyke and Georgia Rowe, Paige Reed, Lucy Harris, Ella Powell-Davies and England Nets player Lucy Herdman.
Stars’ Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, said: “The signing of Ama is huge for us. She led England to a historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia last year and her experience is massive. Ama is an amazing athlete and is always striving to be better, all the time. I told Ama I want you in my team for your experience, your knowledge and your ability both on and off the court.
“Towera has a huge amount of experience internationally. She is a very tenacious player and has a wise head on her shoulders, which is something I love in defence. It sealed the deal for me after Malawi took the silver medal at the Africa Netball Cup. Towera played a vital part in two crucial games so it was a no brainer for me to bring her to Stars.”