Soh excited with role to grow netball in Asia

Charmaine Soh is a SEA Games champion, a two-time Asian champion, Singapore's captain and the country's most-capped netballer.

Yesterday, she added another accolade to her illustrious CV when she was appointed World Netball's athlete ambassador for Asia.

The appointment came as a surprise to Soh, who said: "It's a great honour to be able to work together with fellow legends around the world because those ambassadors are names you would know if you played netball, so to be part of a team that's helping to grow the sport is something that would've never occurred to me.

"I'm very keen to help and get young girls to take up the sport because sport itself teaches a lot of values in life that we can pick up."

Soh, with 122 caps, joins Jamaican netballer Shamera Sterling, a 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, as one of World Netball's athlete ambassadors.

World Netball, which was renamed in June as part of a rebranding exercise, began unveiling its team of ambassadors as it aims to grow global participation.

Locally, the 31-year-old Soh has been involved with initiatives to grow the sport and last year launched Stellar Netball Academy as a way to create a pathway for younger players.

The winner of the 2012 and 2014 Asian titles and 2015 SEA Games gold is now excited to see how she can contribute to developing the sport in Asia, although she admitted that it may be challenging in a region where few countries play netball.

Netball Singapore has launched several initiatives over the last two decades to raise the profile of the sport in South-east Asia and Soh hopes to be part of similar efforts in the future.

She said: "You have other sports like football and basketball that are more popular in Asia and we are more traditional in our thinking, where some believe that women shouldn't play sport.​

  • 122

    Caps earned by Singapore netball captain Charmaine Soh.

"There are different mindsets, preferences and cultures, so those might be the challenges.

"There are a lot of rules (in netball compared to something simpler like football), so it really boils down to people being more open to learning a new sport."

World Netball president Liz Nicholl said: "We recently confirmed Australia as hosts of the 2027 Netball World Cup and with this came a commitment to implementing a significant legacy programme to develop the game in the Asia-Pacific region.

"At the top of the sport for over a decade, Charmaine is the ideal role model for young girls in the region to aspire to and I am looking forward to working with her to grow the game further in the region through her role as World Netball Athlete Ambassador for Asia."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2021, with the headline 'Soh excited with role to grow netball in Asia'. Subscribe