A file photo of national netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa. BT file
The national netball team posing for a group photo with the Sabah state team during last weekend's trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The team won all four of their games there against the Sabah senior and junior team as they prepare to compete at September's 9th Asian Netball Championship in Singapore. Courtesy Thilaka Jinadasa
The national netball team proved to be the stronger side in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, during their preparation tour for the 9th Asian Netball Championship in Singapore.
Despite playing four games in a span of two days, they managed to rise to the occasion against the Sabah Under-21 and senior team. They first outplayed the Under-21 team 55-36 before sealing a tight 41-37 against the senior team on Saturday at the Netball Court of the Borneo Sports Arena in Kolombong.
The squad then went on to improve their score against the Under-21 side with a 51-21 win on in their second day yesterday and a 47-29 beating over the senior team later in the day. It is understood the team is also planning more frendlies in Kuala Lumpur in August.
National netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa told The Brunei Times she was happy with last weekend's results. Jinadasa also shared that from the tour which is being used to prepare the team for the Sept 7-14 Asian meet, the Sri Lankan had been able to identify areas her team needs to improve on.
"We have to work more on out fitness. Mostly moment speed and reaction drills," Jinadasa said in a telephone interview "It was a very close and good game with the senior team on Saturday and they were all very experienced, tall and well built players," she added.
Jinadasa did confess that lack of time in between the games made their tour a tough test. "It's a big challenge at this level to play two one-hour games just in a day, but it is good exposure for the girls since our objective is preparing them for the Asian Championship," noted Jinadasa.
When asked if she expected to finish with on the winning end in all the matches, Jinadasa admitted that she was not sure how the games would turn out. "During my time we never had the chance to play with them, but it's a good pre-competitive series for me to get the idea of the players since I have a few new comers to the national pool," said Jinadasa.
"We actually planned and proposed (this trip) to the Brunei Netball Association as our first time and it's also a low cost tour. "This tour happened with all the girls' hard work through finding sponsors," added Jinadasa.
The national team consists of 18 players from the existing team, youth players and local clubs. The team also had a tough time securing funding to travel to Sri Lanka for the 8th Asian Netball Championship in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2012.
"We really need to raise funds because we haven't received any support from the Department of Youth and Sports (for this year's pre-tournament trip)," senior national player Asziah Mohd Aszani told The Brunei Times in March.
"We did request for it but unfortunately they can't at this time, so we need to raise our own funds and look for sponsors. "We had to go through a lot as well when we went to Sri Lanka in 2012.
"We had to look for sponsors and even joined open tournaments to win the prize money, and we managed to organise a trip to Singapore for exposure," Asziah added. It was worth the trouble though.
Entering the event ranked 10th in the 10-teamtournament, they returned sixth after some unexpected results in what was the country's first international competition since 2004. They went past Pakistan 91-13, beat Japan 46-38 and played out to a 26-26 draw against the Maldives.
Their other games ended in a 76-18 defeat to Singapore, a 72-11 loss to Malaysia and a 52-39 fall at the hands of India. The premier Asian tournament holds a special place in Jinadasa's heart after she coached her country to victory in the 2009 edition of the Asian Netball Championship.
This year's Championship is set to be hosted at the newly completed Singapore Sports Hub Multi-Purpose Indoor Arena (MPIA). According to the event's website, the eight-day contest will feature 10-12 nations.
The competition will also act as the Asian qualifier for the 2015 World Netball Championships with the top two teams earning their place.
Singapore last held the Asian Championships in 2005 when they picked up the coveted trophy for the first time in front of 3,000 fans at its Toa Payoh Sports Hall.