Netball: Modified 3v3 league a challenge but players happy to be back on court

Mannas' Charmaine Soh (second from right) fighting for the ball against a Marlins Air player on Feb 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Defender Miki Ng usually spends her time on court blocking and guarding her opponents, but on the first day of Netball Singapore's 3v3 National League on Tuesday (Feb 23), she found herself having to take on the additional task of attacking.

With just three players on each team in the modified tournament, which is held at the Kallang Netball Centre, each player has to fulfil multiple roles unlike in the regular seven-a-side format where there are specific tasks for each position.

Despite the additional workload, Ng, 20, was thrilled to be back competing after a year-long hiatus. The Mission Mannas player said: "It was quite a big transition... In this kind of game, you really have to know how to attack and drive.

"We've been waiting so long for a competition and we finally have a goal in mind to train towards. Training was quite intense and we keep pushing ourselves to be better, but there was seemingly no benchmark for us to show what we've learnt."

Last season's Netball Super League (NSL) was halted two weeks before the competition wrapped up owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year's NSL has also been hit, with the first round - which was scheduled to start on Jan 23 - also canned while the second round slated for Feb 20 has been postponed to May 15.

With the uncertainty surrounding the NSL campaign, the modified 3v3 National League could be the only competitive action that players get this year.

Play in Divisions 1 and 2 of the 3v3 National League involving 26 teams ends on March 30, with Divisions 3 to 8 to take place from April 5 to May 21.

Teams in each division are divided into two groups to play in a single round-robin format, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semi-finals.

Games are played on a half-court with one rolling substitute and any two players from each team are allowed in the goal circle.

Instead of the usual 15-minute quarters, each game comprises two 10-minute halves with a three-minute break.

While the changes have made the games more tiring, Marlins Air midfielder Tan Yi Jie understands that it can help players become more well-rounded.

The 21-year-old said: "The first quarter we went in shocked because everyone went in with full intensity and by the second half, everyone felt quite tired.

"But this is good training for us because sometimes we may be too dominant in defence or attack."

Blaze Dolphins coach Wang Jing Qing believes the 3v3 National League is beneficial for her team, saying: "At least they're training for something while we're waiting to see if the NSL is going on.

"Now there's a competition, there's something to train for and the intensity is up now that they're playing against other clubs."

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