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Helping the netball team

April 18, 2023 People's Tonight 276 views

Lito CincoI HAVE heard of this sport of netball, played by seven female players per team, but that was as far as it went.

In fact it was only when I met some national team members in the Media Relations Training( MRT) I co-facilitated for the Philippine Sports Commission(PSC) that I got interested in the sport, perhaps due to the fact that its face of the sport, Thea Cenarosa was one of them, and she happens to have been a runner up in the Miss Earth – Philippines and competed in the 2020 Binibining Pilipinas.

And she happens to be the top scorer of the team.

Kidding aside, after I got to know athletes from other secondary sports, not the mainstream ones, I decided I would go and help these disciplines in whatever way I can, and I have lined up jiu jitsu, netball, adventure racing, kurash, indoor hockey, and even bridge, which I will try to learn with my son JM, among the sports.

In fact we will meet up with national bridge team member Jenel Frances on Monday at the Elks Club in Makati for a tutorial on this game of bridge, a future subject for this column.

Anyway, I already attended a netball team practice and interviewed team members and head coach Piao Fedillaga, and learned a lot more about the sport.

It was born here because Singapore hosted the 2015 SEA Games and needed more participating countries, and they introduced the sport here, even training the national team.

We landed in 6th place that year, and 5th in the succeeding editions in 2017 and 2019.

Just late last year, the Philippines also placed 2nd in the Jeonju International Netball event in Korea.

However, this year, netball is not part of the Cambodia SEAG but the team will compete in the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Thailand on November.

Piao admits that the sport has yet to grow its base of players, in fact most of the players are former or current collegiate basketball players, a couple from volleyball, in short, no original player.

The players were unanimous in saying netball is more difficult to learn than basketball, for one, due to many technical rules.

She cited the absence of a regular venue as another reason for the small number of players, in fact when they called for a try-out late last year, only 30 players responded, 24 of which made it to the training pool.

Their tallest player stands six feet, they face opponents with six foot ten players. But still, Piao believes Filipinas can excel in this game given the support they need.

But you have to give it to these girls, they have persevered, and with what they have achieved so far, have been rewarded,

Fortunately too, netball is under a lady PSC Commissioner, bowling legend Bong Coo who has been helping the team.

Truth is, finally, the netball team has found a permanent home already as the PSC has approved the use of the Ninoy Aquino Stadium at the RMSC for the team, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday , 5 to 8 pm.

Previously, they had to use different venues .

They would like to introduce the sport in schools but a standard sized venue remains to be a problem, which is why they would be introducing a 4×4 version that can be played in a smaller court.

Says assistant coach Sae-ann Gallegos, who had to read the game’s manual before fully understanding it, compared to other Asian countries, we are still at the collegiate level.

But then all sports grow from humble beginnings, and hopefully, this sport can follow women’s basketball which has moved up to the next level and gunming for a 3rd straight SEA Games gold medal next month

And as I said, I will be helping them in my own little ways, this is one way. I also promised to conduct a free mental strengthening session with them, hopefully in Mt. Banahaw.

Good luck girls. By Lito Cinco

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