S'pore have to pull their weight by bulking up: Aitken

S'pore have to pull their weight by bulking up: Aitken
Team Singapore Netball players (from left) Jocelyn Ng, Natalie Long, and Chen Li Li at a training session.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore confirmed they are Asia's top netball team on a day Australia sealed their status as the world's best.

The Republic beat Sri Lanka to finish 15th at the World Cup in Sydney yesterday but national coach Ruth Aitken feels her charges will need to put in more hours in the gym if they are serious about making an impact on the international stage.

That, and take the road less travelled by playing African and Caribbean sides on training tours.

The New Zealander admitted after yesterday's 59-32 win - which allowed them to avoid settling for the wooden spoon - that the players are fit in the Asian context but struggle against international teams.

She added: "We need to be stronger and to be able to sustain the intensity and knocks a bit more.

"We need to look at getting the third gym session in the week. Our girls do not come with the bulk unlike the other ethnic groups."

Becoming stronger physically will ensure that more physical teams, such as those hailing from Africa and the Caribbean, will be less able to dictate terms against the Singaporeans around the court.

Aitken also acknowledged that the team struggle against less familiar opponents.

Out of eight games, they won only twice, both times against old rivals Sri Lanka, whom they dominated comprehensively yesterday, leading at the end of the first three quarters (16-8, 36-12, 49-21) before wrapping up the match.

She said: "We struggled to establish or execute the game plan, we haven't had enough experience to overcome the other styles.

"(And) I felt that we still did not play to our best. We did at times but in games which really mattered, we didn't but we could have made a difference. The fourth quarter against Samoa was very disappointing and (in) the Zambia game, I thought we just didn't fire at all and I thought we can play better against them."

But she believes that her charges can improve.

"It's about confidence and backing ourselves," said Aitken.

"I think it's a mental approach as much as a physical approach and we just need to toughen up and more exposure would be better."

Australia overcame bitter opponents New Zealand 58-55 to win their 11th title.

The Silver Ferns went into the final unbeaten after a shock win over Australia in the group stages. However, a nine-goal deficit in the first quarter left the visitors unable to catch the defending champions.

England finished third, defeating Jamaica 66-44 in the bronze-medal match.


This article was first published on August 17, 2015.
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