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Zan Vimbela (SWPix)

Loughborough Lightning have revealed their first new signing ahead of the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) with South African Zanele Vimbela joining the ranks.

year-old defender is no stranger to elite level netball having featured in South Africa’s national side in the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, and more recently the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool.

Johannesburg-born Vimbela, who stands at 6ft tall, missed out on the 2021 VNSL season, where she was due to represent fellow UK side Strathclyde Sirens, after suffering a heart-breaking ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury at a TNL Tournament in South Africa.

Now fit and raring to go, Vimbela is keen to get back on court and show the Loughborough crowds what she can bring to the table.

“I feel very honoured to join a team like Lightning for the 2022 season, couldn’t be happier to be with a high-quality franchise,” she told Loughborough Sport.

“I’m mostly excited to be getting back on court and defending the championship, after being out for almost a year from injury & hope to be a great fit for the team.”

Looking at the season ahead, Vimbela is keen to support Lightning in their title defence campaign:

“What I’m hoping to achieve in 2022 is to continue growing in the game of netball and of course retain the VNSL title with Lightning.”

With Australian defender Sam May announcing her retirement at the end of the 2021 season, Head Coach Sara Francis-Bayman was keen to look for a replacement who would continue to provide experience for her younger players. She said:

“Zan is hugely experienced both domestically and internationally. She will provide dynamism to our defence end whilst giving the younger players confidence and calmness.”

South Africa regularly produce high quality players and currently sit fifth in the world rankings, with a number of its squad competing in the world’s toughest leagues such as Australia’s Suncorp Super Netball and the VNSL.

With just five days left in the signing window, Vimbela brings Lightning’s head count to ten. With five more names yet to be revealed, be sure to keep your eyes peeled over the coming days to see who will make up the championship winning side for 2022.

Confirmed squad so far:

  1. Mary Cholhok
  2. Ella Clark
  3. Beth Cobden
  4. Alice Harvey
  5. Jess Haynes
  6. Hannah Joseph
  7. Suzie Liverseidge
  8. Nat Panagarry
  9. Hannah Williams
  10. Zan Vimbela
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