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File photo credit: Yeo Han Hwee/SportSG

By Yeo Han Hwee

A glorious day at the beach - the sun, the surf, and the sand. What could be better? Well, how about playing a game of beach netball? 

Believe it or not, beach netball was created right here in Singapore, a mere five years ago. Since then, the popularity of this new sport has grown by leaps and bounds! 

1. Rules of Beach Netball

The rules of beach netball are quite similar to its more conventional cousin, but there are several important rule changes.  Firstly, there are only four players from each team are allowed in the game, and all of them can score goals. 

There is only one netball hoop for both teams to score, and a three point zone has been added (if you are inside the zone and score, you get one point; but if you score from behind the three point line, you get three points).

Diving to intercept the ball is allowed, and if the opposing team gains possession, they have to bring the ball back to the traverse line, before they can attempt to score a point (imagine playing on a half court). Each game is played for six minutes, without breaks. The result is a very fast-paced, action-packed game.

2. Differences Of Beach Netball

The main difference in beach netball is that it is played on soft, uneven sand without shoes, and not a hard court surface. Therefore, bounce passes are eliminated. Your ability to run, and your footwork are slowed down considerably. 

As a result, your leg muscles, especially the quadriceps, get a real workout, as does your balance. The addition of the three point shot is also a “game-changer”. If a team can successfully score a few three pointers, they can create an insurmountable lead (remember, each game lasts for only six minutes).

In addition, as it is played outdoors, the heat, and the sun become another set of factors. Players must remember to drink plenty of water before a game.

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File photo credit: Yeo Han Hwee/SportSG

3. Missions Food Beach Netball Festival 2014

Undoubtedly, the biggest date on the calendar for beach netball is the Mission Foods Beach Netball Festival. There are 3 categories in which you can compete: Women’s Under 23, Women’s Open, and Corporate/Mixed Open, and teams compete in a round robin tournament. 

Organized annually by Netball Singapore, this event is now in its fifth year. In 2013, 39 different teams competed. This year, it has grown to 51. The 2014 festival was held at Siloso Beach in Sentosa, and attracted a very diverse mix of locals 9 students and working adults) and expats. It was a scorching, hot day (participants wore socks to protect their feet), which matched the action provided by the netballers, as they competed for the top honours, cash, and prizes!

Deborah Rowe, the captain of the “Sparta” team (winner of the Women’s Open 2013 and 2014), says, “It feels great to successfully defend our title. I really like the physicality of beach netball - since the time limit is so short, everyone goes flat out, all guns blazing. Everyone should try it out as it makes for a fun and unpredictable game.”

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