Sunshine Coast Lightning has announced young Queensland athlete Charlie Bell has been awarded a replacement player contract for the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball season.

Bell comes into the squad to replace Reilley Batcheldor, who suffered an ACL injury during the Australian National Championships in August.

The 197cm goal shooter was awarded her first Training Partner contract with the Queensland Firebirds in 2022, after making her way through the Netball Queensland pathways, securing a premiership with the North Brisbane Cougars in the HART Sapphire Series this year.

Bell recently competed in the Australian National Championships with the Queensland Sapphires and was selected in the 2022 Australian 21/U Squad where she attended a four-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in September.

Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds said she was looking forward to bringing the young shooter into the Lightning environment and developing her skills.

“I am excited to have secured Charlie as Reilley rehabilitates from her ACL injury. Charlie’s athletic attributes and stature provide us great versatility to our game plan which will complement the rest of our team,” she said.

“I am looking forward to working with Charlie to continue to develop her netball career, she has a bright future ahead of her.”

Bell said she had to contain her excitement when Belinda called her with the news and is looking forward to learning from Australian Diamonds Steph Wood and Cara Koenen in the shooting circle.

“When I got the call from Belinda telling me she wanted to sign me into the team, I felt a drop in my stomach and instantly thought “this isn’t a dream, this is really happening right here right now”. I kept my cool for the remainder of the phone call but inside I was screaming with excitement and honestly shed a tear when I hung up,” she said.

“I am really looking forward to developing my craft and game smarts within a new team, particularly in the circle under Cara and Steph who I’ve looked up to throughout my netball journey. They have so much experience between the two of them and have such an amazing connection so I’m probably most excited to be a sponge and learn as much as I can.”

Charlie will join the team next week as they continue their pre-season training.

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