The national netball team undergoing a night training session at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium. – FADHIL YUNUS
BRUNEI Darussalam national netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa has outlined advanced preparations ahead of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games year as they look forward to emulate their bronze-winning exploits from the previous edition shall they get the nod to compete in Kuala Lumpur.
The regular season may have been over this year following international and invitational competitions in previous months but Jinadasa is already planning to set up a provisional squad early next year.
Currently, Jinadasa said that 25 players have already started training since October all hoping to secure a spot in the national team next year.
The national coach disclosed that first selection to trim the number of players will be on January 20 in 2017 but before that all players must undergo a fitness test with the Sports Medicine and Research Centre on January 11 and 12.
The Sri Lankan is setting her sights to lead her charges in major competitions namely the 10th Asian Youth Championships in Korea in May and the SEA Games in August.
“2017 will be a big challenging year as we have to work hard to defend our bronze medal position in the SEA Games,” said Jinadasa.
“With youth team, I’m hoping to upgrade Brunei Asian youth ranking or maintain our ranking as it is,” she continued.
When asked how this year has panned out, the national coach underlined the good points of her team’s performances.
“Compared to previous years, I think we had a good result this year. We lost our ranking during last Asian championship and we managed to regain our 6th ranking position again this year,” she said.
“I believe it’s a big achievement because I had few newcomers in the team this year and I think we did very well.
“With youth tournament, it was a big achievement for players to play in finals and become runner-up in Asian level tournament even though it’s an invitation tournament.”
The national under-21 team secured a runner-up finish in the Korea Invitational Netball Tournament after falling to a narrow 30-23 defeat by Hong Kong at the Jeonju City Multi-Purpose Hall in Jeonju City last August.
Jinadasa also oversaw the national team’s participation in the 10th Asian Netball Championship in in Bangkok, Thailand.
However, the national coach still face major challenges to retain the players having previously stressed they must stay in the team over a long period of time.
“The major weakness is that it is hard to maintain players’ availability throughout the years and I always have to search for players.
“Normally in this international level, these national players play for their respective countries for a number of years which players gain a lot of experience from.
“Other weakness I experience is some players intend to give up when they feel too hard to maintain training. Also, a lack of international exposure is also something that affects us when we play crucial games,” she said.
Jinadasa, who guided her native to the Asian Netball Championship title in 2009, also raised the importance of playing exposure series in gearing up the players ahead of major competitions.