Coronavirus: First major local competition in Singapore cancelled as Netball Super League is called off

Sneakers Stingrays goalkeeper Reena Divya Manogaran (second from left) challenging Blaze Dolphins goal shooter Lee Pei Shan for the ball in the opening match of the Netball Super League 2019 on Feb 16, 2019.
Sneakers Stingrays goalkeeper Reena Divya Manogaran (second from left) challenging Blaze Dolphins goal shooter Lee Pei Shan for the ball in the opening match of the Netball Super League 2019 on Feb 16, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - While the cancellation of the Netball Super League (NSL) two weeks before the competition wrapped up left teams disappointed, they also felt it was the best option amid the ongoing conoravirus pandemic.

Netball Singapore (NS) announced on Friday (March 27) that the tournament, which was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday, would be aborted owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, making it the first major local sports competition to be called off.

The semi-finals, preliminary final and play-offs for fifth place were supposed to take place this weekend while the final was scheduled for April 4 at Our Tampines Hub.

Mission Mannas vice-captain Vanessa Lee said: “There’s a lot of uncertainty as to when all this will end so if we’re just going to keep it to an open date and not know when it’ll take place, it’s going to be hard to train and prepare for it, so cancelling it is a good call.

“We’re all disappointed that it’s cancelled because we can’t complete what we started and we are only two weeks away from the final. But in light of the current situation, it’s the best thing to do.”

Mannas were set to play Sneakers Stingrays in Saturday’s (March 28) semi-finals.

The two round-robin stages started on Feb 8 and were completed on March 22.

With the season ending prematurely,  Sneakers, who amassed 28 points, have been crowned champions, with the Mannas (18) runners-up and two-time defending champions Blaze Dolphins (16) finishing third.

Stingrays coach Goh Seck Tuck said: “Of course we always hope we can play till the last game and rightfully win the championship but we’ve shown that we have been quite consistent.

“It’s quite a shame that the whole team couldn’t complete it on a high note but in this present situation, it’s the best that can happen.”

Most of the games this season were played behind closed doors.

 
 
 
 

On Monday (March 23), the six international players who had joined the league in the second round were forced to fly back to their native Fiji following uncertainty over flights owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The NSL was then postponed indefinitely after the Ministry of Health announced the next day that all sporting events, regardless of size, must be deferred or cancelled, with the measure taking effect until at least April 30.

However, NS decided to halt the competition completely, with chief executive Cyrus Medora saying: “While the current decision is that all sports stop until April 30, we understand that could very well be extended with the large number of Singapore citizens and long-term residents still to return.”

Other local events have also been disrupted by the virus, with the Singapore Premier League football competition, along with all its clubs’ training sessions, suspended on Tuesday.

The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) has also postponed the May 14-17 Singapore National Swimming Championships and June’s 51st Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships indefinitely. The May 29-31 Fina Diving Grand Prix Singapore has been also cancelled.

All national youth training (youth club/affiliates) will cease until April 30 and youths will also be excused from national team training. 

Training sessions for the national team may proceed if limited to 10 people and with appropriate screening measures. 

Athletes and coaches will maintain at least one metre spacing between each other while ensuring that there is only one person per 16 sq m of usable space, said the SSA.