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Marquee National Players Say Goodbye to Top Flight Netball

Lin Qingyi, Chen Huifen and Premila Hirubalan announce their retirement ahead of M1 NSL Grand Final

Netball Singapore announced today that three of their long-serving national players have called time of their successful careers on an international stage.

National Captain Lin Qingyi, Co Vice-Captain Chen Huifen and Premila Hirubalan have all made the decision to step away and focus on life off the court after amassing a hugely impressive 328 caps between them. 
Lin, aged 30, made her debut in 2004 and has since represented Singapore on 102 occasions including three World Cups, one Commonwealth Games, four Asian Championships – where the team lifted Gold on three occasions – and she captained the side in the 2015 SEA Games on home soil where the team took top honours.

The Deloitte Singapore employee says that the SEA Games in Singapore has to be one of her most memorable moments and is looking forward to still being part of the game but letting the next group of players emerge.

She said, “Leading the team to win at SEA Games was probably the most memorable. It was against Malaysia and my first SEA Games. I am glad I could last that long to be part of that experience.

“I have been very lucky, I came into netball in a time when things started to pick up. We have had international coaches and Netball Singapore have taken care of everything for us and given us so many opportunities. I have seen the progression over my period in the game and got to do some really awesome things. I will still play netball, it’s been part of me for so long and it’s more focusing on work and other things but I have been really fortunate and now is the good time to walk away.”

School teacher Chen (aged 31), has 109 international caps to her name and boasts a similarly impressive netball CV as Lin following her debut back in 2005. The goal attack has enjoyed many highs and is keen to help in the development of our local future talent.

Chen explained, “I have been able to share my stories and experiences with my students and I want to stay involved in the sport to help players develop at a lower level with the students.

“Asian Championships in 2005 when I was a rookie was quite an experience – the first time we brought home the title. When we beat Sri Lanka on their home patch in 2012 it was amazing – we had our other rivals supporting us and that meant a lot. When we played in SEA Games last year, we raised the profile of the sport and we could show everyone how mature we are and what a popular sport it is.

“I am going to maybe study and settle down a bit but I will still play at club level and enjoy being part of the sport.”

Making her debut back in the 1999 World Championships in New Zealand, Hirubalan has had a netball career spanning 17 years and has represented Singapore 117 times during that period. On top of the dedication required to achieve this, she spent several years in Australia to become a Doctor and then returned to Singapore to work and continue her netball. Like Lin and Chen, the Medical Officer at Singapore General Hospital was inducted into the Netball Singapore Hall of Fame in 2015 and takes away many great memories of her time in the sport.

She said, “A lot of highs, a lot of lows but something that I would never have given up or let pass me by. It’s been worth all the sacrifice, all the long days of work and training, but then when you win the SEA Games, Asian Championships and did well at a few Nations Cups, that makes it all worthwhile. It’s been a lot of fun.

“I am going to sleep more now, catch up with family and friends and have some time to travel and holiday. I will still maintain my fitness; hopefully still play in NSL but now it will be more for enjoyment. I will really miss training with the Opens squad but I am going out on a high.”
Singapore National Coach and Technical Director, Ruth Aitken hailed the girls’ achievements and contribution. She said, “They have been instrumental in the success that the National Team has had over the last few years. They are great talent on the court but their leadership within the group has also been a major factor in the team’s achievements. We all will miss them, but I hope they will still take an active role in the sport and be able to offer mentoring support to the younger players we have coming through.”

Cyrus Medora, Chief Executive Officer of Netball Singapore, echoed Aitken’s comments by adding, “On behalf of everyone at Netball Singapore, I would like to congratulate them on all they have achieved in the sport. I would like to thank them for their dedication and leadership – without players like this, we would not have been able to grow the sport to where we are now.

“It takes a huge amount of commitment to juggle top level sport along with studies or a career, and these three players are wonderful role models for the next generation of players we have coming through to show that it is possible and success can be achieved on and off the course with the right attitude and belief.”

Both Lin Qingyi and Chen Huifen will be in action this Saturday in the Grand Final of the M1 NSL, playing for their club side Blaze Dolphins against Sneakers Stingrays at 2pm.