Ama Agbeze has been there, done it and got the gold medal when it comes to the Commonwealth Games….and now she is helping to prepare potential Team England stars of the future. The 39-year-old captained her country to their first-ever Commonwealth gold in netball back in 2018, and she is currently helping her hometown of Birmingham get ready for the 2022 Games as part of the Organising Committee.
If she wasn’t busy enough with that, Ama is also a SportsAid trustee, as well as an ambassador for the United by Birmingham 2022 community programme, and will be using her experience to help the next generation through the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England.
“The Birmingham Games are just around the corner, and I wear a lot of different hats and it's interesting that all of them seem to be coming together at the same time,” said Ama. “In terms of being on the Commonwealth Games board, there is a lot going on across the whole of the Organising Committee and I particularly am really interested in making the Games great for athletes in terms of performance, so they can come here, enjoy their experience and compete to the best of their ability.
“Also, I have done a number of talks for SportsAid and became an ambassador and mentor for them and they put forward a bid for Commonwealth Games England’s Team England Futures Programme and were successful. I think it's just great that it marries up a lot of the interests that I have.”
One of those interests is ensuring that everyone who attends the Games has the best possible experience, from the stars of today to the stars of the future. Team England and SportsAid are working together to deliver the Team England Futures programme which hopes to provide invaluable experience to both future athletes and support staff about the challenges of a multi-sport competition.
“The Team England Futures programme is great to tie in with a home Games because a home Games can come and go and they're not necessarily maximised to the capability that they can be," said Ama. “The programme utilises the fact that people don't have to be transported to another geographical location, so we can harness and use that as a benefit to us and encourage and emphasise the experience to people.
“A successful Games is a Games where athletes are satisfied with the facilities, the transport, the food, everything that's provided so that they can perform optimally and that's my main goal for the Games in terms of being on the board. As an athlete chair and in terms of Team England, I hope for Team England that they do the best that they can.”
Ama earned a bronze medal on her Commonwealth Games debut as she made her first appearance at a multi-sports Games back in 2006, and by the time 2018 came around she made sure to soak up every moment, a key piece of advice she encourages members of the programme to heed.
“The programme draws on a lot of different people and their experiences and their capabilities so hopefully those to be selected for the programme will get a broad understanding of expertise around multi-sport Games,” said Ama.
“I think for me personally it is trying to understand how amazing it is and that passion….and rather than looking at the end game, focusing on the process and how that looks in terms of you individually, but also to understand that you are part of a wider team, Team England.”
Another crucial element of the Games which the Selly Oak native hopes to teach members of the programme about is its inclusivity.
“The Commonwealth Games incorporating para sport as part of the whole sport programme is really great,” said Ama. “It’s unprecedented in any sporting Games across the globe. In terms of a legacy, it is not the first time that has happened at a Games but Birmingham's Commonwealth Games has the biggest para programme within a Games that there has been.
“It helps to normalise para sport in that it is just sport and it should be part and parcel of the sporting programme that society has available. I think it changes people perceptions - the more that it's pushed out there, the better.”
Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The programme, supported by Sport England, will reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Games, particularly one hosted on home soil, as a developmental opportunity within the talent and performance pathway!