Coronavirus pandemic

Netball: Netball Super League play-offs called off

Sneakers Stingrays goal attacker Toh Kai Wei taking a shot as Mission Mannas' Ema Mualuvu attempts to block. The Stingrays were named champions after the NSL season was halted prematurely.
Sneakers Stingrays goal attacker Toh Kai Wei taking a shot as Mission Mannas' Ema Mualuvu attempts to block. The Stingrays were named champions after the NSL season was halted prematurely. PHOTO: NETBALL SINGAPORE

Super League teams downbeat but say health takes priority; Stingrays crowned champions

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 coronavirus pandemic.

Netball Singapore (NS) announced yesterday 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 next Saturday 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 today's semi-finals.

The two round-robin stages started on Feb 8 and were completed last Sunday. With the season ending prematurely, Stingrays, who amassed 28 points, have been crowned champions, with Mission 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, 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 on Tuesday 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2020, with the headline 'Netball play-offs called off'. Print Edition | Subscribe