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Netball Mixed Gender
File photo credit: VOXSPORTS for SportSG

By Yeo Han Hwee

Think netball, and you will probably think of a game that school girls play in their Physical Education classes. As the game originated in the UK, it should be no surprise that it is most popular in Commonwealth countries. 

For example, in Britain, the sport receives coverage on BBC radio. The English Netball team was even featured in an episode of a popular TV reality show called “The Only Way Is Essex” in 2012. In Australia, netball is the most popular women’s participation sport.

Growth Of Netball In Singapore

There are an estimated 80,000 netball players in Singapore (this includes its different variations). Over the last few years, netball has experienced solid growth. In 2005, the Asian Netball Championships was held here in the Lion City. In 2006, Netball Singapore, the official governing body, created and hosted the first major Asian netball tournament: The Nations Cup.

Mixed Netball

But guess what? It’s not just for girls anymore. There has been a change with the traditional view of the sport, and this has given rise to mixed netball teams.

Wait, mixed netball? That’s right, it’s netball with men and women, and they play against each other.

However, men are only allowed to play in three positions - Goal Keeper, Centre, and Goal Shooter. All the other positions are taken by women and the same rules apply.

The sport’s popularity has increased so much that the Mixed Social League (MSL) was born in October 2010. The MSL’s “proud parents” are Singaporean Michael Ong and New Zealander Joanne Khan. Both love netball with a real passion, and wanted to create a platform to promote it to a wider audience. 

Michael was introduced to the sport in his junior college days, and continued playing while in university where he started a recreational netball club. He even organised the first street netball tournament in Singapore, “Netballuxion”.

Joanne, who has lived in Singapore for over 25 years has always been very passionate about it. No matter where she travelled to, she has always been involved in the game, either in a playing or coaching capacity. 

Why did they start the MSL? “I hope that this league can be a platform for netball enthusiasts to get together and have fun on a weekly basis… having fun during the game, getting to know more people in the netball circle are the primary objectives in the game,” said Michael.

“We… have to remove the stigma that it’s a “girls only” sport. There are very few recognized team sports where male and female players can compete together on the same field, which is why we love it so much,” said Joanne.

So far, the results have been encouraging. In 2014, for the first time, the MSL has created 2 mixed netball divisions due to increased response. Division A will be for the more experienced and competitive teams, and Division B will be for newer, casual players.

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