Netball: Netballers will be underdogs at SEA games

Uncapped Singapore national netball squad member Deborah Rowe in action in last year's Netball Super League. The 25-year-old is one of 14 players going to New Zealand for a nine-day training tour.
Uncapped Singapore national netball squad member Deborah Rowe in action in last year's Netball Super League. The 25-year-old is one of 14 players going to New Zealand for a nine-day training tour.PHOTO COURTESY OF NETBALL SINGAPORE

Hosts Malaysia are Asian champs and will have rousing home support: Interim coach

Singapore's national netball team may be the reigning South-east Asian champions, but interim coach Yeo Mee Hong believes her charges will be the underdogs at this year's SEA Games.

She told The Straits Times: "We may be the defending SEA Games champions, but Malaysia won the Asian Championship last year - the most recent major tournament.

"They'll also have home-ground advantage and their spectators will be really loud, which is something we'll have to cope with."

Singapore were Asian champions in 2005, 2012 and 2014. They were third last year.

Still, the 52-year-old Yeo, who took over the helm after New Zealander Ruth Aitken stepped down at the end of last year, remains confident about her charges' chances of "repeating the good result we had from 2015", when they won the coveted gold on home soil.

Equally confident of Yeo's ability to lead the Republic's team in Kuala Lumpur is Netball Singapore (NS) chief executive officer Cyrus Medora.

  • THE SQUAD


    National netball players attending the training tour in New Zealand from Feb 4 to 12:

    • Vanessa Lee

    • Aqilah Afiqah

    • Chen Li Li

    • Charmaine Soh

    • Cassandra Soh

    • Parveen Nair

    • Melody Teo

    • Jocelyn Ng

    • Deborah Rowe

    • Josephine Yeo

    • Kimberly Lim

    • Nurul Baizura

    • Shina Teo

    • Zhang Ailin

Reiterating that it "will not hire until (we) find the right coach", he added: "If we don't, I am confident that Mee Hong will do a great job in taking the team to the SEA Games."

Yeo was assistant national coach to Aitken from 2013 to 2015, as well as to Aitken's predecessor Kate Carpenter from 2005 to 2007 and 2010 to 2012.

She is also head coach of Netball Super League (NSL) team Mission Mannas, who were champions in 2014.

Said Medora: "Mee Hong has been in these high-pressure situations for quite a few years and her league team has also been doing well, so I think she's fine."

Yeo added: "Even without a coach, we will still continue with our preparations for tours and competitions.

"My job is to make sure this programme is carried out, and I'm confident of leading the team regardless of whether it is taking them to the SEA Games or handing them over to a new coach."

Yeo revealed that this year's NSL competition from March 4 to April 29 will be the main tournament from which 24 players will be shortlisted for the SEA Games.

The list will be whittled down to 14 by June, and after a training tour in Belfast, the 12-strong SEA Games squad will be finalised.

For now, 14 players from last year's national set-up will go to New Zealand for a training tour from tomorrow to Feb 12, where they will play five games against club sides and meet Aitken, who remains a consultant with NS.

Yeo is aware that the retirements of veterans Micky Lin, Chen Huifen and Premila Hirubalan mean the squad have "big shoes to fill".

The trio have 328 international caps among them, while the 14 New Zealand-bound players have 457 in total.

"We're still working on improving chemistry and understanding within the squad," said Yeo.

"We also have players who haven't had the chance to play internationally (Deborah Rowe and Jocelyn Ng), so this (training tour) will be a good chance for them to gain some experience playing against opponents from New Zealand."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Netballers will be underdogs at SEA games'. Print Edition | Subscribe