Ama Agbeze and Geoff Thompson join Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games board

Ed Elliot, PA
·3-min read

Former international athletes Ama Agbeze and Geoff Thompson have been appointed to the board of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Agbeze captained Team England’s netballers to Commonwealth gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Games, while Thompson is five-time former world karate champion.

Their appointments by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden follow concerns over a lack of diversity among the event’s leadership.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, pictured, has appointed Ama Agbeze and Geoff Thompson to the board of the Birmingham 2022 organising committee
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, pictured, has appointed Ama Agbeze and Geoff Thompson to the board of the Birmingham 2022 organising committee (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Last year, the organising committee was criticised for its near entirely white board and executive management team.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin subsequently stepped down from the board to help improve representation, with Barbados-based Sandra Osborne taking her place.

Birmingham-born Agbeze, a qualified lawyer, also won bronze at the Melbourne Games in 2006 and has held a number of roles as an ambassador, trustee and board member to various charitable organisations, including Commonwealth Games England.

She hopes to make the Games a celebration of “sport, community, culture and equality”.

“Having a major competition on your doorstep is a rarity,” said Agbeze in a statement.

“Therefore, being part of the organising committee for a Commonwealth Games that will showcase your home city and its surroundings to the world is an absolute privilege for me – a definite once in a lifetime opportunity which I will relish.

“I am looking forward to fully engaging with the role and working with the rest of the board to ensure the Games are a celebration of sport, community, culture and equality.”

The board oversees the planning and delivery of Birmingham 2022, which is scheduled to be held from July 28 to August 8 next year.

Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games (Joe Giddens/PA)

It comprises sports, civic and business experts and leaders representing Birmingham City Council, the West Midlands Combined Authority, the UK Government, Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games England.

Thompson has experience in the bidding, hosting and legacy planning of major events including the Manchester 2002 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, in addition to being the founder of UK-based international charity Youth Charter.

He recently became a new non-executive director at the Professional Footballers’ Association.

“My aim is to contribute to the delivery of a Games that will bring the global Commonwealth community together and celebrate a diversity of legacy, hope and opportunity to our young people and communities both at home and abroad,” said Thompson.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin stepped down from the Birmingham 2022 board last year
Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin stepped down from the Birmingham 2022 board last year (Jacob King/PA)

Local politicians had called for more black and ethnic minority board members to better reflect the West Midlands region.

Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Having both competed at the highest level and excelled in work across sport more widely, I know their experience will be invaluable to the board.

“They will play an important role in delivering the biggest sporting and cultural event the West Midlands has ever held, showcasing the best of the UK in what will be a landmark year for the country.”

Board chairman John Crabtree added: “Their sporting expertise speaks for itself – they are world beaters and incredibly inspiring individuals. They know what it takes to seize an opportunity in order to achieve something great.

“They are very welcome additions to the board.”