Netball World Cup campaign shows S’pore can punch above their weight: Coach

Coach Annette Bishop says, “We played many different styles here, and we’ve shown that we can be competitive on the international stage.”

Kimberly Kwek

Kimberly Kwek

The Straits Times


Singapore's victories over Sri Lanka at the 2023 Netball World Cup were the country's first over their continental rivals since 2015. PHOTO: SHAUN ROY/THE STRAITS TIMES

August 8, 2023

SINGAPORE – As Singapore wrapped up their Netball World Cup campaign with a 49-46 victory over reigning Asian champions Sri Lanka to finish 15th, coach Annette Bishop believes her team’s showing in South Africa is proof they have what it takes to punch above their weight on the international stage.

Singapore were the lowest-ranked team at 28th, but that mattered little as they beat world No. 15 Sri Lanka, who are six-time Asian champions, twice in Cape Town.

This was also the first time since 2015 that the Republic had beaten their long-time arch-rivals, whose team featured 2.06m veteran Tharjini Sivalingam.

While those were their only victories at the 16-team World Cup, they also produced a creditable effort against world No. 14 Barbados, with the Caribbean nation winning narrowly 55-50.

Bishop said: “We played many different styles here and we’ve shown that we can be competitive on the international stage.

“We don’t really talk about rankings but we’ve punched up here… It is that belief that’s here and it’s how we keep raising the bar back home to make sure we continue becoming a formidable force on the international stage.”

She attributed the performance to their mental fortitude as they came up against higher-ranked players, also giving credit to their strength and conditioning coach Chin Chih Yung.

Bishop hailed their fighting spirit, especially in their second game against Sri Lanka as they came from behind to triumph. The Sri Lankans were 15-8 ahead after the first quarter, but Singapore outscored them in the next three periods to seal the win.

The Kiwi said: “The team rallied around each other, stayed in it and they just threw their bodies on the line.”

With an average age of 24.6, this was the youngest Singapore side at the quadrennial World Cup and the players hope to build on the lessons learnt.

Their victories over Sri Lanka are also timely ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in November and Asian Netball Championship in 2024.

The last time Singapore were Asian champions was nine years ago when they beat Sri Lanka 59-41 in the final. Since then, Sri Lanka have won the continental competition twice, with Malaysia taking the title in 2016.

Singapore will also host October’s MiRXES Nations Cup at the OCBC Arena.

World Cup debutante Jamie Lim, who was named Player of the Match in Singapore’s first match against Sri Lanka, described her maiden appearance as an eye-opening one.

The defender said: “Going out onto the court, Annette always tells us that it’s the same court with two poles and we’ve done it back at home. So we just have to put all the hard work and what we did back home on court and it showed throughout the whole competition.

“We had some big opponents whom we’ve never faced at home so going up against them, there were different techniques used on the court that we had to adjust to and just stick to our game plan and do whatever it took to get the ball.”

For co-captain Toh Kai Wei, it was a lesson in leadership as she learnt how to motivate the team and keep spirits up in tough encounters. She said: “This group of people just made everything more memorable.

“This is my first time leading the team on such a big stage, so I had to think about how to manage the team, what ways I can encourage them and just to keep the spirit high for everybody to ensure we play as a team.”

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