Lee to captain netball team for Asian title defence
Previously retired Lee appointed skipper for Asian Netball Championship
The retirement of stalwarts Micky Lin, Premila Hirubalan and Chen Huifen raised concerns over whether the Singapore netball team's continental dominance would come to an end.
Seeking to defend their Asian Netball Championship title in Bangkok from July 30 to Aug 7, national coach Ruth Aitken has named a squad with a mix of the old and the new.
Goal defence/goal keeper Vanessa Lee returns to the fray after retiring in 2012 and has been appointed captain, while the uncapped duo of goal attack/wing attack Zhang Ailin and centre/wing defence Josephine Yeo have also made the 12-member squad.
"It's really good to have Vanessa and some experience back in, instead of it all going out the other way," said Aitken yesterday.
"She is an impressive woman. I have had the luxury of working with her this year.
"When we went to Fiji earlier this month for a training stint, she slotted in like she had never been away.
"She's got a mature head on her, she speaks a lot of wisdom within the group and she is also very calm, measured and consistent in her approach to things.
"I feel these things are what our group needs at the moment, especially in our defensive group.
"She marries these with a ruthlessness and competitiveness on court.
"With Bai (Nurul Baizura) and Charmaine (Soh) as vice-captains and Vanessa as captain, we have good role models."
It has always been a tough fight among Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia at the Asian Netball Championships, and Lee feels this edition will be no different.
The Republic have been drawn in Group A with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and the Maldives, while Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan and Afghanistan are in Group B.
"Of course, the retirement of three key players will bring about changes and new faces, and this will introduce new dynamics," said Lee, who is also an academy executive with the Little Swim School.
"As captain, I will help to bring the team together. We definitely want to work towards retaining our title."
Aitken wants not just the captains, but also every player in her squad to step up and cope with the retirement of Lin, Hirubalan and Chen - which will inevitably have an impact in both attack and defence.
"They key thing now is how we operate as a team. We cannot rely on individual brilliance," she said.
"Prem and Micky had that flair and individual brilliance at times, but it will be the graft and grind of our team in attack and defence that will be key to how we perform."
"Without Huifen, we have lost a playmaker, but we have the option of bringing Charmaine out to goal attack to play with Yu Mei Ling, a taller goal shooter.
"We also have Zhang Ailin, who is like a mini Huifen - in the sense that she's small but a real playmaker.
"She's good at making others around her look good because of her timing and her passes. (Goal attack/wing attack) Pamela Liew has also been progressing well.
"I feel that within the mix of our shooters, we have got variety - from a holding shooter to a moving shooter.
"And we are going to need our wing attack Kimberly Lim to step up and be a leader in the forward court as well.
"I know that when our players represent their country, they play out of their skin. If we play to our best, we are going to give any team a great go, and that's what we are going to do."
Meanwhile, off the court, Netball Singapore has adopted Mercy Relief as its adopted charity in a three-year partnership - the first official collaboration between a national sports association and a humanitarian and disaster relief organisation in Singapore.
Vanessa Lee, Nurul Baizura, Charmaine Soh, Yu Mei Ling, Pamela Liew, Zhang Ailin, Kimberly Li, Parveen Nair, Josephine Yeo, Chen Li Li, Shin Teo, Aqilah Andin.