By Gladys Lim (16S03K)
Photographs by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I) and Gabrielle Jeyaseelan (15S06A) of Raffles Photographic Society
Raffles entered the last game of their season unbeaten, but not complacent. Despite the clean sweep of their last 7 games, the team had trained hard and stayed dedicated this year, and the fighting spirit blazed in each one of them that afternoon on 22 May, as they readied themselves for the pivotal match of their season. The final match was against River Valley High School (RV), whose team had been credited for making it to the finals with only 9 players, and to boot, had clinched victory against tough opponents from Hwa Chong Institution. But in spite of this, the Raffles team was determined to put on the best fight of their season.
Once the match commenced, RV started off with the first centre pass, but a missed catch by their team’s Goal Attack (GA) coupled with a quick pick up by our team’s GA Tessa Wong, and an accurate shot by Goal Shooter (GS) Isabelle Belanger put our team ahead of their opponents. This boosted the Rafflesian team’s morale and steadied their play. Jeimin, who played in Centre position, provided good support for the team with her effective leaps and considerable reach. Timely runs and good flow on the attacking side allowed the team to take a comfortable lead of 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, our team’s defence increased the intensity of our play. Good coverage by our Wing Defense (WD) Yvonne Goh, enabled Goal Defense (GD) Rukimini Roy and Goal Keeper (GK) Ayshath Zaseela to intercept and make turnovers for the team. Our tight defence cut off RV’s offensive path, making it tough for them to advance their attacks. The pressure led to a held ball that gave Raffles possession. Nearing the end of the quarter, GD Rukmini Roy made a dash out of the goal circle for an unexpected interception from their opponent’s Wing Attack (WA). The second quarter concluded with Raffles putting in 17 shots and RV putting in 5 shots.
Entering the third quarter, Raffles continued their lead but RV did not give in. A long lob into their goal circle was successfully shot in by their GA. Yet, we stayed alert and WA Freda Mah was able to make an interception and score. The shooters and mid-court players communicated well during a smooth trade of passes between WA Freda Mah and GA Tessa Wong. They were assisted by Eyu Yan Yan, who took the court as a Centre. She displayed keen foresight and made quick runs into free space. Tessa Wong also executed swift movements in the goal third with GS Isabelle Belanger who helped put in shots. With a score of 42-19 in favour of Raffles, the quarter drew to a close.
For the last quarter, the coach substituted some players in to give all the team members an opportunity for court time and to experience the adrenaline on court. Nadia Quek took on the position of GA and scored an accurate shot a fair distance away from the goal post. Natalie Rodrigues who entered as a WD also put up a good show with her skilful deflections and interceptions. On the defensive side, GD Grace Tay made some powerful jumps against her opponents in the goal circle. Geraldyn Leong played as WA and did exceptional feeding of the ball to the shooters, ensuring that the opponent’s defenders could not challenge the ball. River Valley on the other hand, made conservative short passes to put in 8 more shots. The game ended with a score of 52-29 to Raffles, securing our girls a triumphant victory.
To the spectators, the competition faced by Raffles Netball may have seemed insignificant – judging from their seemingly easy victory. But they undoubtedly faced much internal pressure to succeed. For this season, the team’s regular coach, who had been out due to the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, was substituted by a former national coach, Mr Goh Seck Tuck. Tessa Wong (15S07A), Captain of the Raffles Netball team says, “Coach was very serious, dedicated and experienced. He was straightforward, and expected only the best from us, yet was understanding of the struggles we went through. He has taught us to fight against the odds, and helped us to enrich our capabilities, such as by challenging us [through giving] new drills.” Indeed, their coach had impressed the beauty of overcoming obstacles not as one, but as a whole, upon the Netball team. For everyone, it had indeed been a memorable season as each had a unique takeaway and renewed passion for the sport, especially after constant and tiring – but meaningful – trainings to amp up for the match. There was one thing the team would be sure to remember: the sky’s the limit. Every process determines the outcome, and indeed it was a well-deserved championship title for Raffles Netball.
List of Players:
Ayshath Zaseela, Isabelle Belanger, Grace Tay, Natalie Rodrigues, Freda Mah, Eyu Yan Yan, Geraldyn Leong, Rukmini Roy, Tessa Wong Ting, Yvonne Goh, Tang Jeimin