New netball initiative to grow talent pool
Youth development in the local netball scene will undergo a major change, The New Paper has learnt.
In a bid to grow the talent pool, training and competition opportunities will be afforded to more young girls after the end of their National Schools campaigns, especially those who fail to make it past the zonal level.
Currently, Netball Singapore's (NS) M1 Schools Challenge League offers competitions to teams that do not make it to the nationals, along with recreational school teams and those from international schools.
National age-group teams - Under-14, U-17, U-19 and U-21 - are then formed after the various competitions and compete in various international events, or local ones like the multi-division National League.
The expanded youth programme will be supported by a sponsor and will be launched in the next few months.
Netball Singapore chief executive Cyrus Medora declined to reveal details of the plan, but said that NS has been working on it since the start of the year.
"Yes, the current system has been working but I'm sure it can get a lot better, especially at the age-group level, and since we have more than 300 teams taking part in the school competitions every year," he said.
"We have been doing well at the Open-level because of the focus, and amount of resources we put in there.
"Look at Malaysia, their U-21s are way up there and we haven't been close to them."
Malaysia won the Asian Youth Netball Championship in 2010, and a youthful senior team finished a close second to the Republic at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
The Malaysians went on to dethrone Singapore when they won the Asian Netball Championship in Thailand this year, and are favourites for the SEA Games gold in Kuala Lumpur next August.
NS wants a bigger base of players to choose from for the various national squads, and Medora said: "Players develop late in netball. So you want to get more in your system and keep them as long as you can."