National netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa (L) posing for a picture with the national team after their 37-29 win over Singapore Sports School's Under-16 team at the Sports School in Berakas yesterday. BT/Syarif Rasani
Brunei's netball team continued their winning ways ahead of their 9th Asian Netball Championship in Singapore after picking up a 37-29 win over the Singapore Sports School's Under-16 squad yesterday.
The national team's previous spars saw them outplay Sabah's senior team 41-37 and 47-29 as well as their Under-21 team 55-36 and 51-21 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah last month. It was a close game between the two opponents in the first three periods of the match at the Sports School in Berakas. The first period saw them draw 7-7, followed by the Under-16 team taking the lead in the second period with a score of 14-12 before the national team took control of the game and led 21-18.
The gap continued to widen as Brunei went up 30-22 before ending the game 37-29 in the last of the five 10-minute rounds. National netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa admitted she wasn't too happy with the day's performance and said that the side is still a work in progress. "The winning feeling is good. But I think we need to work hard because this is just the Sports School team, and we need to challenge other national teams in the future," she told The Brunei Times.
"As a national coach, I don't think I can be that happy because I definitely have a problem with with one of my best defenders (Dk Nurhafizah Amirah Pg Mohd Ali) having a right knee injury. "Dk Nurhafizah has been playing for me the last two years because I had confidence in her even with her injury. "With Dk Nurhafizah, I just can't ask her to sit and wait. She needs to try because we have one and a half months to go," said Jinadasa.
The national team that consists of 24 players will be cut to 15 on August 5. Jinadasa will then have to go through her team once more and cut another three as she can only register 12 players for the Asian Championships. "The girls are working hard but with the structure you can see, it's a contact sport, so if you're very small it's very hard to compete with that," noted Jinadasa.
"You can see they have the speed, reaction and everything, but sometimes you get beaten by the opponent's physical structure," added Jinadasa. Singapore Sports School coach Noraida Abdul Malik, on the other hand, felt that her players had nothing to lose and everything to gain through the experience. "It's a good exposure for the kids and physically it was hard," said Noraida.
"We only arrived today. It's our first game so I thought they played well. There were some good patches here and there, and at some points the girls did well to get the ball down the court. "On the other hand, the (Brunei) national team is a very good team and this is one of the better teams Brunei has ever had, so it's really good to see. "Brunei has been very kind to take us in and to play with their team and we asked if we could bring the older girls," added Noraida.
Singapore Sports School chose to come to spar against teams in Brunei to give exposure originally to their Under-14 team, but after the Under-16 squad cancelled their trip to the Thailand Sports School Games, they also came along for the experience. The other match of the day saw the Singapore Sports School Under-14 team defeat the Brunei Darussalam Sports School Council (BDSSC) Under-14 team 46-20. Their exposure tour continues today with their Under-14 team taking on Jerudong International School's Under-14 squad before having a rematch against BDSSC.
The Under-16 team will then take on BDSSC's Under-16 team before they take on the national squad again.