The Singapore Women’s Sevens Team for the SEA 7s 2016 will feature 5 new debutants as the national team continues to rebuild and discover new talent.
Huab Arra Heloise Castro and Ong Peiyi have come up through the National Women’s High Performance Development 7s Team and the National Development 15s Team.
National Women’s Team Head Coach, Wang Shao Ing, indicated that she was confident the duo would feature strongly during the SEA 7s this weekend.
“We’ve been keeping our eye on Arra and Peiyi for awhile now and had initially wanted to include them in last year’s senior squad for the Asian Sevens Series. However, Arra had heavy school commitments then and Peiyi was recovering from an injury coming out of the domestic sevens series.”
“They’ve both put their hands up and really stood out for their club during the fifteens season. Arra, in particular, was stellar during the National Development Team’s two test series against the Hong Kong U19 and we’re really pleased with how they have come along in the sevens program.”
Cross Code Athletes
Also included are Lai Pui San, Lee Han Ni and Shuhadah binte Mohamed Abdul Gaffoor from the X Code Challenge program, a talent ID program run by the Singapore Rugby Union earlier in the year which was targeted at athletic females who have the potential to compete at the elite level. Since being shortlisted, the trio have been training with the National Women’s Sevens Training Squad.
Wang said “The SEA 7s 2016 not only presents us with an opportunity to play the other teams in the region outside of the SEA Games window but also gives us a chance to blood some new talent before the 3-leg Asian Seven Series in the second half of the year.”
“Pui San played rugby union briefly six years ago so she already has some understanding of the game. She is also a double World Cup Touch Football Bronze Medalist and has some pace on her, which is essential for the game of sevens.”
Lai has been enjoying her return to rugby and said she enjoys training “Every session, I’m always learning something new (rules, skills, drills). The other players were very encouraging and helpful at training. Always providing advice to improve. I am excited and humbled that I have been given this opportunity.”
Lee and Gaffoor come from netball and basketball background respectively. Both are multi-sport athletes having also played handball and touch in university and were talent-spotted at NUS’s inter-hall touch games.
On the duo, Wang said “Han Ni’s and Shu’s gut instincts for the game are strong. It helps that they are both fit and quick and most importantly have a great attitude towards learning and demonstrated a good work ethic.”
The contact element of rugby union is new to both Lee and Gaffoor, but they were effusive with the help and advice being rendered to them by their new team.
Lee commented “The physicality of the game is definitely a challenge for me, given my background in non-contact sports. But the other players have been really accepting towards new players like me, both on and off pitch. They are always selflessly and patiently imparting their game knowledge to me, which I really appreciate because it constitutes a friendly and conducive environment for learning.”
Gaffoor agrees “I must say that it is rather daunting at times learning a new sport within such a short period of time but earning together with this bunch of fun and enjoyable team mates is definitely the highlight of this process for me!”
The inaugural SEA 7s 2016 kicksoff at 11am on 15 April 2016 at Yio Chu Kang Stadium. Fixtures can be found at http://www.sea7s.sg.