Ama Agbeze admits the loss of the Commonwealth Games would be a massive blow for netball.

The former goal defender, 40, led England to their first ever gold at the Games on the Gold Coast in 2018, with Helen Housby’s dramatic last-minute winning goal now an iconic moment in the sport’s history.

That victory was seen as a breakthrough moment for the sport that has struggled to achieve mainstream cut-through and big attendances despite a large number of players across the country.

But that gold medal could be England’s last, with the Commonwealth Games still struggling for a host of the 2026 edition after Victoria pulled out earlier this year owing to increasing costs.

Any demise of the showpiece – held in Birmingham last year – would leave the Netball World Cup as the sport’s only major international tournament, and Agbeze believes its loss would be sorely felt by the netball world.

“The Commonwealth Games win in 2018 really did transform netball in the UK and set it on a massive upwards trajectory so if the Commonwealth Games doesn’t go ahead, I think it is going to have a massive impact on the global game of netball,” she said.

“It is the one opportunity that netball gets to go to a multi-sport event so it will have a detrimental impact.

“Netball is working on ways that it can reinvigorate the sport and I think not having the Commonwealth Games would be a blow.”

England failed to follow up their 2018 gold four years later at a home Games in Birmingham, with Jess Thirlby’s side posting a disappointing fourth-placed finish.

But Agbeze believes sell-out crowds at matches at the 2022 Games, coupled with record TV viewing figures as England reached the Netball World Cup final for the first time this summer, demonstrates the strong appetite for the sport in the UK.

The UK’s domestic competition, the Netball Super League, is also set to go fully professional in 2025 and Agbeze is hopeful the Commonwealth Games can continue to be a part of the sport’s future growth.

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“There has been a seismic shift in the popularity of netball in the UK and 2018 instigated that,” Agbeze added, speaking at a SportsAid workshop dedicated to educating young athletes on mental health and wellbeing alongside The Prince and Princess of Wales at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.

“The home Commonwealth Games had incredible atmospheres and sell-out crowds, it really showed people are hungry for more netball content.

“If the Commonwealth Games doesn’t go ahead, it is going to be really hard to replace but netball needs to create channels where people can see the game globally and be attracted to come and watch.

“Netball Super League 2.0 is revolutionary and really exciting for domestic netball in the UK. It will transform the game here and hopefully we will get the best talent, we will be the best league in the world. 

“England Netball currently have the tender process open and they are encouraging not just netball franchises but any organisation that has an interest. That is really exciting because it is speaking to a broader audience than just the netball crowd.

“Our sport is growing massively, it is commercially viable. The attraction to female sport is huge and netball has a great product. It is great for the game, for players, coaches, and fans.”

SportsAid is seeking support from individuals and organisations to allow the charity to invest further in its mental health and wellbeing initiatives. Please contact Serena Castiglione, Head of Fundraising at SportsAid, on if you would like to help provide talented young athletes, as well as their families, with the support and advice they need at a key time in their development.