Coach Kok Mun Wai is somewhat a secret champion.
As a coach of three local schools netball sections - CHIJ Kellock (Primary), CHIJ (Toa Payoh) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College - she managed the remarkable feat of leading a team to glory in each of the five National Titles that were up for grabs this year! That's Primary Junior, Primary Senior, C Division, B Division and A Division.
It's exhausting just thinking about the hours of coaching involved in that or the stress and nerves endured of the team bench of each of the five final showdowns!
Kok Mun Wai shares her secrets to success.....
Congratulations on your wonderful achievement this season in winning all 5 national titles - how does it feel?
It feels great of course, and quite unbelievable too really. None of them would have been possible though without five hardworking and disciplined teams, committed teachers and understanding parents!
Which victory was the most special and why?
Each victory was special. Each team is made up of such a different group of individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. They all went through amazing journeys to reach their final destinations.
If I really did have to pick one though I would say the B Division win. We lost two of our shooters in the zone competition and lost three matches on our way to the final. The players showed tremendous courage and determination to come through those obstacles and win in the final.
How did your nerves stand up to all these finals?
Regardless of how many finals I'd been to or how well-prepared we were, each one was extremely nerve-wracking. Once the matches started I would focus on the processes and what we had to do rather than the score or how much time we had left. That helped me to steady my nerves and minimize the stress.
What were your aims for each of your teams going into the season?
The aim for each team was to work incredibly hard, do our best and finish the season with no regrets (no 'what if' or 'if only') regardless of the final outcome.
How do you split your time between each school to ensure you're able to get the most out of each team?
The crucial period around competitions didn't really clash which was good. The Secondary School season was from January to April, the Junior College season was April to May and the Primary School national round from late June to July. I am also very lucky to have very helpful and supportive school teachers who would cover me when I was spending more time with other teams.
When did you start coaching netball?
I started coaching in April 1996.
Where did you play your netball and what level did you play too?
I started playing in school like most girls. I went on to represent Singapore at the World Youth Netball Championships in 1988, the Asian Championships in 1990 and the World Championships in 1991.
I used to play for the Marlins at club level but I don't really play anymore now. I prefer hot yoga when I get time to relax!
What is it that you love about coaching netball?
- Seeing each person grow as a player and an individual
- Seeing what they have learnt in training being applied in game situations
- Bonding with players and teams when you win and lose
- Planning training programmed (especially fitness circuits) and analyzing statistics
- The adrenalin rush you get from competitions
What are your plans for next season? Are you going to continue to coach at all three schools again and what are your aims?
There is no plan to change from what I have been doing this year at each school and my aims remain the same year in, year out which I mentioned earlier.
Have you seen a growth in interest in the sport in Singapore and why do you think that is?
Yes, I've definitely seen a growth in interest in sport as a whole here and netball included in that. Firstly, I think it's due to a change in mindset of parents around importance of sport and that it is now a viable career option. Secondly the growth in the staging of major events here such the Formula 1, World Netball Championships, Singapore Marathon and the Youth Olympic Games.
Netball Singapore do a lot of work in marketing the sport such as their eye-catching bus stop adverts, Zo-cards, street banners etc to increase awareness and they have a number of programmes like KidzNet aimed at younger players to get them into the sport at a young age.
Lastly, I think the growth of street versions of sports like street netball have contributed as its not always possible to get 14 players together for a full game of netball but much easier for a group of eight friends to gather and play the street version and get them into the sport that way.
What would you say to encourage more people into coaching netball in Singapore?
Follow your heart and do something you enjoy.
How will you keep your motivation and enthusiasm going now you've achieved so many accolades?
The pressure, stress and adrenalin rush from competition keep me going. I think I enjoy working in those kind if environments, I find it easy to focus and the solutions come quite easily to me. I usually feel 'brain dead' during the off season!!
What other coaching aspirations do you have and how will you go about achieving this?
I would like to form and train a club team to eventually compete in the Energizer Nationa League Division 1 and the Netball Super League.
At a higher level, I would like to lead the 21&U to a major competition. Nothing very different to what I have been doing, just continue on from all the work I've been doing over the years.
Any final thoughts on the season?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the principles, vice-principles, heads of department, teachers, other staff, parents and last but not least all my players for a fantastic, amazing and memorable season of netball.