Netball: Lionel Lewis and James Walton elected to new Netball Singapore board

Deloitte South-east Asia sports business group leader James Walton.
Deloitte South-east Asia sports business group leader James Walton. PHOTO: DELOITTE SINGAPORE
Former Singapore national team goalkeeper Lionel Lewis.
Former Singapore national team goalkeeper Lionel Lewis.PHOTO: DELOITTE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - They are usually associated with a ball at their feet, but former Lions goalkeeper Lionel Lewis and Deloitte South-east Asia sports business group leader James Walton, who is known more for his football analyses, have stepped forward to serve Netball Singapore.

The duo are part of a group of nine who were elected to the Netball Singapore board at its annual general meeting on Wednesday evening (Sept 22).

The others include members from the previous board - president Jessica Tan, vice-president Tan Zing Yuen, honorary secretary Gaby Hochbaum and members Lye Puat Fong and Sharmaine Chan - as well as new additions Melissa Aw Yong and Soh Kok Leong. According to its constitution, their roles will be decided at their first board meeting.

Former national netball captain Micky Lin was also elected as chairman of its newly formed Athletes' Commission and will sit on the board with voting rights.

This is the second national sports association Lewis has joined this year after entering the Football Association of Singapore council in April. The 38-year-old is no stranger to netball as he has been in charge of the sport at Nanyang Polytechnic for five years.

The NYP manager of sports development said: "Over the years, I have learnt more about the sport and fallen in love with it.

"I hope I can add value to the team with my team-sport experience in football, and help grow interest in the sport among students to increase participation and from there build a bigger talent pool so that we can dominate Asean and Asian netball again.

"There are also men's and mixed teams out there already, so we can try and see if there's an opportunity to formalise that and grow the sport even more after the coronavirus pandemic."

Meanwhile, Walton, who has been involved with strategy reviews of over 30 NSAs, including Netball Singapore, over several years, felt it was a natural progression to get on board.

Noting how netball is the No. 1 women's sport in Singapore, the 44-year-old said: "It's a great honour to be elected to the board of Netball Singapore, an NSA that I have had the pleasure to support since 2014 in my role with Deloitte."

He noted that his employer, Deloitte, is also a keen backer of netball and has employed 16 national players over the years.

"Netball is increasingly becoming popular as a mixed sport. It is also a sport at which Singapore has showed we can compete at a regional and global level, having been Asian champions in recent years," he added.

"I hope to bring my passion for sports, my knowledge of the global and local sports environment, and my marketing and business experience to help ensure we can celebrate more Asian titles in the years to come."

NS president Jessica Tan welcomed the new board and paid tribute to the "excellent" outgoing board members Jessie Hoe, Lee Min Li, Jean Ng, Vincent Wong, Clarissa Chan and Alan Lim.

She said: "Netball Singapore is very fortunate in being able to attract talented professionals and sportspersons to its board to give us the depth and breadth to continue to grow netball.

"We have all worked closely together as a team to promote our sport and we thank them for all their contributions over the many years. This cohesion, that is also evident in our netball fraternity, has allowed netball to grow with a singular focus on improving and expanding our sport.

"We will work together to continue to grow netball in the years ahead, with innovative new programmes and events."