Veteran trio in netball's Hall of Fame

The addition of (from far left) Micky Lin, Premila Hirubalan and Chen Huifen means there are now six players in the Singapore Netball Hall of Fame. The trio are still playing competitively and are SEA Games as well as Asian champions.
The addition of (from left) Micky Lin, Premila Hirubalan and Chen Huifen means there are now six players in the Singapore Netball Hall of Fame. The trio are still playing competitively and are SEA Games as well as Asian champions. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

They have been familiar faces in the netball scene for more than a decade, helming the Republic's various campaigns at the regional and international level.

All three can call themselves Asian champions, the region's highest honour, and after June, SEA Games champions too.

So it was fitting that Netball Singapore honoured veterans Premila Hirubalan, Micky Lin Qingyi and Chen Huifen by inducting them into its Hall of Fame at the Netball Singapore Awards Night yesterday.

The Hall of Fame was launched in 2012 and serves to honour the sport's greatest athletes over the years based on the number of caps received and their contribution to the national team and netball as a whole.

The trio join three other Hall of Famers - former national captains Yap Hui Kim, Vicki Woo and Jean Ng, all of whom were inducted in 2012.

Hirubalan, 33, began her international career in 1999. She also has 112 international caps, the most in Singapore's netball history.

Lin, 30, the national captain for six years, is on 97 caps.

Chen, 30, has 10 years of netball experience and has been the national vice-captain for four years. She has 101 caps.

Despite all that they have accomplished, the honour came as a surprise to all of them with Chen saying: "I was a bit shocked. I didn't expect to be inducted because I think the previous three Hall of Famers contributed a lot."

Lin agreed, saying: "We were just surprised because of the high profile of the earlier Hall of Famers, but at the same time we were very honoured as well.

"I started playing netball not thinking about getting into the national team, but I got there and all these are just bonuses for us ."

But for Ms Jessica Tan, Member of Parliament and president of Netball Singapore, the selection of the three was thoroughly deserved.

She said: "We have seen Huifen, Micky and Premila consistently exceeding expectations, pushing their limits and striving for not just their personal best, but also for the team's.

"With this award, we celebrate their achievements and hope to inspire many other like-minded players to follow in their footsteps."

That being said, it is their off-court contributions that matter the most.

Shooter Charmaine Soh noted that Hirubalan, 33, "brings a different vibe to the team".

She explained: "She is the joy of the team where before competitions, when we are all nervous, she tries to calm the team down."

"Micky and Huifen don't talk as much but they are very good leaders where they will personally text you and give you encouragement which is always nice," she added. "Knowing that you have someone who cares a lot for you and that they are always there, means a lot to the team."

Team-mate Nurul Baizura also had nothing but praise for the trio: "They are good role models even outside of netball in terms of their career choice, and they are very holistic people individually."

Hirubulan is a doctor, Lin an assistant manager at Deloitte and Chen a teacher.

Nurul added: "They show me that despite being a national player, we can still excel in areas outside of sport."

Apart from the night's top honours, the Lee Foundation, a longtime supporter of Netball Singapore, also presented a total of 83 monetary awards to members of the national age-group squads to assist with their school expenses next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'Veteran trio in netball's Hall of Fame'. Print Edition | Subscribe