M1 Zone Age Group programme to boost talent pipeline
Pipeline is lifeline, as a popular saying in the local sports fraternity goes.
True to the phrase, the quality of national teams depends on the strength of the developmental pathway of its talents.
Yesterday, Netball Singapore launched the new M1 Zone Age Group programme - a new scheme that will significantly boost the sport's developmental pipeline.
Under the new programme, four zonal age-group teams, each comprising 12 players, will be formed at both the Under-14 and Under-17 levels, after the Schools Nationals.
The 48 players in each age group will train and compete in the National League over nine weeks, before the two respective national age-group teams are formed.
Previously, only one team of 12 players was selected for both U-14 and U-17 levels after the Schools Nationals.
"As a sport, we always want to lift the standards and results, and this (new programme) will help us to continue to grow the sport," Netball Singapore (NS) president Jessica Tan told The New Paper at the programme's launch at its Kallang headquarters yesterday.
"We also want to allow more people to play more, and ensure that we don't miss out on talent."
NS chief executive officer Cyrus Medora added: "It will also greatly enhance our selection process (for the national age-group squads).
"Instead of hundreds of players getting 15 to 20 minutes each to impress selectors, the coaches can observe the players over six to eight games."
Also, four zonal developemental squads for both age-groups will be formed after the schools zonal championships, comprising players from schools that don't make it to the Nationals. These players will train for six weeks, and are also eligible for selection for the zonal age-group teams after the Schools Nationals.
Medora revealed that there were plans to set up centres of excellence in 2007 or 2008, but the proposal fell through due to lack of support from the various stakeholders.
This time, telecommunications company M1, a sponsor of NS since 2009, has stepped in to support the programme, with NS working with the Ministry of Education's Physical, Sports and Outdoor Education Branch to get it off the ground.
"We are happy to see our long-term partnership with Netball Singapore grow the Singapore netball scene from strength to strength," said M1 director for corporate communications Ivan Lim.
"The M1 Zone Age Group programme, in delivering more playing opportunities to our promising netball talent, will enable them to scale even greater heights."