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Caroline Mtukule of Team Bath Netball

After four Netball World Cups and five Commonwealth Games, Malawi captain Caroline Mtukule is thrilled to be bringing her defensive talent to the Super League for the first time after joining Team Bath Netball for the 2023 season.

Mtukule, who plays goal-defence and goal-keeper, has amassed a wealth of experience during a playing career dating back to 2004. During that time she has helped the Queens achieve their best-ever rankings of fifth place at both major international tournaments.

Now she is excited to become the first Malawian to wear the famous Blue & Gold of Team Bath after being named as their 12th registered player for the new season, which gets under way against Loughborough Lightning at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday 11 February (11am centre-pass).

“It’s a great pleasure to be joining Team Bath and I am so honoured to have this opportunity,” said Mtukule, who has captained Kukoma Diamonds to several Malawian national titles. “It’s a big challenge but one I’m excited for and I will do my very best to help bring positive results.

“I’ve never played for a club overseas before but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for many years. I’m ready to learn new skills and test myself in a big league. I know why I am coming and what I want to do.

“I know Team Bath are a big club with a good history. I have played against Kadeen Corbin a lot with England over the years and I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the players.”

Mtukule’s last visit to the UK was in August for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the ninth major international tournament she has experienced dating back to the Melbourne 2006 Games. She was also in the Netball World Cup squad the following year and has been a regular starter for the Queens since 2010, with this summer’s World Cup in South Africa next on the horizon.

She has also been helping youngsters grow their love of the game while working as Netball Development Officer for the Bhubesi Pride Foundation (BPF) in Mtema, a rural community on the outskirts of Malawian capital Lilongwe.

“I have been coaching kids aged 11-15 for a few years now and it is a very rewarding role,” she said. “It’s not just about netball, it is teaching them life skills too.”

Mtukule comes into the Team Bath squad as an injury replacement for England defender Tash Pavelin, who has sadly been ruled out of the 2023 season after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Team Bath Netball Head Coach Asha Francis said: “We are delighted to have Carol on board. Tash has left big shoes to fill, in terms of her quality and stature, and we needed to find a goal-defence who would not only perform on court but also add value to the squad and help our younger players develop.

“Carol ticks all those boxes. She has so much international experience but is incredibly humble and in all of our conversations her focus has been on what she can do for the team. We’re all looking forward to welcoming her to Team Bath.”

Mtukule will link up with her new team-mates once her visa application has been approved. Until then, Academy graduate Annie O’Rourke – who has stepped up from training associate in 2022 to training partner this year – will take her place in the match-day 12.

“Annie has had a full pre-season with us and been integral in our pre-season matches, getting a lot of court time,” said Francis. “She has previous Super League experience with Celtic Dragons and will do a great job for the team.”

Mtukule and O’Rourke are among seven new faces in the extended Team Bath Netball squad for 2023, along with Wales international Bethan Dyke, Future Roses player Jayda Pechova, Roses Academy duo Sophie Kelly and Phoebe Maslen, and New Zealander Ali Wilshier.

England defender Summer Artman and Commonwealth champion Kadeen Corbin have also returned to the Blue & Gold to join captain Lily-May Catling, vice-captain Betsy Creak, Roses mid-courter Imogen Allison, Kirsty Harris, Lily Jones and Hannah Passmore in a vibrant, new-look squad.

They will be in action at the Team Bath Arena for the first time on Friday 24 February against a Strathclyde Sirens squad featuring Mtukule’s international defensive partner, Towera Vinkhumbo. Tickets for that match, and Team Bath’s seven other home games this season, are on sale now at netball.teambath.com/tickets. Season tickets are also available and can be paid for in two monthly instalments.

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