Scoring interests in netball

Fadhil Yunus

The Brunei Netball Association (BNA) was established with the mission to elevate netball as one of the core sports in the Sultanate, with players active in the international arena.

BNA, founded by Hajah Mariam binti Haji Mohammad in 1990, has also been committed to training the younger generation starting with children as young as 12.

Currently, Hajah Wan Shahlimar binti Haji Suhaili leads the committee as president, accompanied by a vice president, honorary secretary, secretary, treasury, technical official, competition official, development official and a media official as well as umpires and representatives from all four districts. A total of 23 netball players are also under the guidance of the association.

The national netball team is managed by Jane Searle, who was appointed as head coach in 2018. Recently, Searle held a coaching course to help prepare aspiring coaches in their first steps towards coaching.

Searle succeeded Thilaka Jinadasa, who served as the national coach from 2011-2018. The Asian Championship-winning coach has also been credited in reviving netball in the country.

In 2012, BNA achieved a milestone when they formed a national team. A year later, it hosted the Asia Youth Netball Championship, followed by the Borneo Cup Championship in 2015.

The Borneo Cup Championship served as preparation before they left for the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore.

The association was also entrusted to monitor netball competitions in the country and is actively on the lookout for new talents through the women’s netball league every two years.

BNA has also undertaken efforts to increase the technical capacity of match officials with the upgrading of umpires with internationally certified ‘B’ and ‘C’ level badges recognised by the International Netball Federation.

In the regional and international levels, BNA won bronze in the 2015 SEA Games, the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, the Philippines. They also secured silver in the Asian Under-21 Youth Championship in South Korea in 2016.

Brunei came close to adding the 2019 Arafura Games to their collection after they finished fourth following a defeat in the bronze medal playoff.

The national team advanced to the knock-out stages after recording three wins and one loss in their group. A defeat to favourite Fiji in the semi-finals put them in the bronze medal playoff match.

Last April, the association accomplished another major milestone after they became a full member of the International Netball Federation.

BNA will continuously develop the sport by exposing athletes to top competitions.

Some of the top-tier competitions they have competed in include the Asian Netball Championship in 2013, 2016 and 2018 and the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia in 2019.

In the effort to provide opportunities for young players to improve their skills and develop an understanding of netball, the BNA often holds netball camps at the Multi-purpose Hall of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex during school holidays.

Previously, the national team also played warm-up matches against foreign clubs to fine-tune their performances ahead of an international competition.

This was evident in their preparations for the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur when they played several clubs in Singapore in 2017 and exposure matches ahead of the 30th SEA Games in Manila last year.