In addition to Gowling WLG (UK) LLP being Official Sponsors of Team England, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP is an Official Sponsor of Team Canada. To show our support a few of us from our Canadian offices made the lengthy journey across the pond to join our UK colleagues in experiencing the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games first-hand.
After a year of sponsorship activations and build up in preparation for the Games, it was finally coming to fruition and we could not wait to take in some of the sporting events. After telling our colleagues in the Birmingham office we were primarily planning to watch sports where our Canadian athletes were participating in; netball came up in the discussion. Netball is not a sport we play in Canada, or really know anything about! So before we knew it, we got ourselves booked in to watch the England vs. Malawi match.
Not sure what to expect, but with anticipation and curiosity at the fore, we left our hotel to go and watch our very first Netball match. As we were about to jump in the car, a lovely woman asked if she was able to share a ride with us as she too was going to watch netball at the NEC arena. We of course said yes, as we have enjoyed sharing our Games rides with people from around the world.
The trip out to the arena would usually have been a short ride, but with a number of roads closed in preparation for the marathon, we had ample time to chat with our new friend! When we said we were Canadian and had no idea what netball was, she said she used to play and was kind enough to explain the rules of the game. This included that you “cannot hold the ball for more than three seconds”, “cannot take more than 1.5 steps when in possession of the ball”, and that “goals can only be scored by the assigned shooting players”, “players have to stay in their area”. She went as far as to draw us a diagram of the court and explained positions in detail. Seeing the (still) puzzled look in our eyes, our new friend said that we should follow her around the arena and that she would show us where to go. She even kindly offered to sit with us to explain the play-by-play.
As we made our way through security and headed towards our seats, we saw spectators looking and pointing excitedly at our new friend with star struck eyes – some even asked to take a picture with her, which our new friend obliged every single time. Shannon and I looked at each other with much confusion and started to wonder who we were with? As it turns out, our new friend is none other than Ama Agbeze, former captain of Team England’s gold medal winning netball team at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games!
After all that excitement – and a slight twinge of embarrassment at not knowing quite whom we were with – we sat down with Ama to take in the roar of the crowd as Team England entered the court. Having thought the day could not get any better, sitting beside netball royalty, we turned to see none other than Denise Lewis taking in the occasion just one row behind us! The game was exciting, fast paced, and it was made all the better for having Ama give us our own expert commentary. There was a palpable excitement in the air and the crowd went wild as England took home the win with a final score of 66 – 41.
Ama was the perfect host! She was kind and patient enough to explain the game to two strangers from Canada. We are still learning the rules, but what a wonderful and memorable first time experience watching netball – it’s safe to say that we left as fans of the sport!
Good luck to Team England’s netball team, along with the other teams, as they continue their journey to gold!