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Netball in Singapore: Olivia Flanagan on playing Goal Defence in the national team

By: Katie Roberts

At 1.8 metres, Olivia Flanagan is perfect for her position as goal defence on Singapore’s national netball team. The 31-year-old British teacher has a spot on the team’s tour of the Cook Islands at the end of November and will be a big asset in the international competition, the Nations Cup, in December. She took a few minutes out of her busy training schedule to talk to Expat Living.

Why did you move here?

After living in the United Arab Emirates for three years I was looking for a change of scenery. Singapore is renowned for its high standard of education, so I was keen to find a teaching job here. Plus I had heard that the expat lifestyle is very good, and after two and a half years, I can say it is!

Where do you work?

I am a PE teacher at the Anglo-Chinese (International) School.

Did you play netball in the UK?

Yes, I started when I was 9 years old. As an adult I played in the Premier League 1, which is the top club league, and in the Netball Superleague.

How did you get involved with the Bedok Vipers?

A friend of mine, whom I played netball with at university, was already playing for Bedok Kings (bedokkings.com) and she encouraged me to join. I then tried out for the Vipers team, which competes in the Singapore Netball Super League, and I’ve played with them for two years now.

How often do you train?

Since July I’ve been court-training twice a week with the national squad. Having just been officially selected into the squad, I will now be doing two extra nights of strength and conditioning training with them. Fortunately, we have a really well equipped gym at the school where I work, so I do strength or circuit training most days before I start work, too.

What advice would you give to young girls who love playing netball and want to play in the big leagues when they are older?

They should get involved with their school team, but also find a good club team to play for. This will give them lots of opportunities to play and improve. They should always commit 100-percent effort to every team training session. It is also important for them to do their own individual training, whether it be extra shooting practice or just going for a run to improve their fitness. The most important aspect is to get a good balance between training, playing and studying. 

Netball is recognised as an Olympic sport, but has not yet been played there. Why do you think it deserves a place at the Summer Olympics?

Netball certainly deserves a place, as it is played in over 80 countries by more than 20 million people! It seems that as it is a predominately female sport, it hasn’t been included, and that’s a shame. However, with countries such as the US (which will be competing here in the Nations Cup in December) now entering the world stage, I am confident that netball will soon make it to the Olympics

Aside from the physical and competitive aspects of netball, what do you love about the sport?

That would definitely be the friendships. It is a great team sport, and I met my closest friends, both here and in the UK, while playing netball.

See world-class netball

At the eighth Nations Cup, which runs from 1 to 7 December, current Asian champion Singapore faces teams from Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Ireland, Sri Lanka, Uganda and the US. Toa Payoh Sports Hall. Tickets from $4 from Netball Singapore. For matches and times, check the website. netball.org.sg