Netball is one of the fastest growing sports in the community in Singapore (photo credit: John Yeong/SSC).
With over 80,000 active social and competitive members and being the first Asian country to participate and host the World Netball Championships, it is safe to say that the sport is one of the fastest growing ones in Singapore and is here to stay.
The whole netball community had themselves looking only at a volunteer management who relied on grants and donations when it first began in 1962 with 23 registered clubs. In today’s time, what we see now is a well-established association with its own secretariat staff and supporting its expenditure through revenue generation and sponsorship.
The appeal of netball is commonly ascribed to the fact that it is a team game. It is a sport where different individuals come together to display what they have as a team- players have to be versatile, adjusting to fit in with their teammates and covering up for each other. Skills and talent are definitely necessary, but they do not override team play.
“You can have individuals who are really strong players, and of course they can help to increase the game play, but at the end of the day it’s definitely a seven-player sport. Once you are one player short, you won’t do as well,” said Danica Toh, a netball player for the team, Blaze Dolphins.
Not only is this appeal found in the game, but it is also found outside the game. Netball is a sport that brings about togetherness both among teammates and the entire netball community in Singapore. Friendships are easily forged and gradually galvanized through events and competitions that are commonly held.
A common misconception among the laymen is that netball is a “girl” sport. It is often characterized as a gentle and non-challenging game. Male netball players have otherwise debunked the myth.
“Netball can be a very physical and contact kind of sport. It is not necessarily a chill-out sport that is meant only for girls,” said Lim Tat Kian, a male netball player who plays the sport quite regularly.
Netball is physically demanding, much to the surprise of many who have seriously encountered the sport for the first time. It requires stamina, agility and the knowledge and concept of space. A player must also be in tip-top condition physically, including having a strong core to be able to handle the intensity throughout a game.
“In the past, you can say that netball was really a non-contact sport, but today it’s a ‘non-contact’ sport,” Toh laughed, emphasizing on the inverted commas. “There are certain forms of contact involved in the game, so if your body is unable to handle that kind of pressure while you’re playing along the way, you probably wouldn’t be able to hold out for four quarters.”
As the netball scene continues to pick up pace in Singapore, more schools have started to adopt netball as a co-curricular activity. More corporate companies are also looking towards netball as a competitive corporate sport to participate in.
Local competitions such as the National Inter-School Games, Institute Varsity Polytechnic Games (IVP), the Netball Super League (NSL) and the M1 Schools Challenge League have made their mark in the local netball circles as well. Meanwhile, the World Netball Championships is the international competition to look out for as a cause for prestige and honour. Some of the stronger players in the international arena hail from Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
To make it as a great netball player, Team Singapore captain, Micky Lin, contributes words of wisdom, “Cliché as it sounds, I think you have to have a lot of hard work and discipline behind it. It’ll be good if you have great ability and skills - it makes thing a lot easier - but even with that, if you don’t train, it means nothing as well. It’s a combination of both hard work and your own ability.”
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