Once mulling over retirement, Charmaine Soh returns from injury for October’s Nations Cup
As she recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her right knee over the past year, there were times when netballer Charmaine Soh considered calling time on the sport.
It was a challenging road to recovery for Soh, who sustained the injury in Singapore’s 103-3 victory over Japan at the Asian Netball Championship in September 2022.
That was the goal shooter’s first game back after giving birth to her son Cruz in June.
The 33-year-old said on Tuesday: “Many things went through my mind and I’d just had a baby, so the baby plus the injury, then the operation and then the recovery post-operation was tough – there were many times where I felt that I should give up.
“After all, I’ve been through all the competitions, I’d gotten what I’d wanted to achieve as a team, so I thought is it really time to go?”
But the former captain eventually decided that it was not and will be returning to action as she was named in the Singapore team that will be competing at the Oct 22-28 MiRXES Nations Cup at the OCBC Arena.
Soh came to that decision after penning down pros and cons, discovering five reasons to work her way back to the competition stage.
The first reason was the pride she felt whenever she represented Singapore at competitions.
She also wanted to practise what she preached. At the netball academy she runs, she often told the players not to give up and she wanted to lead by example.
Soh also felt a sense of responsibility to contribute to the team, with the aim of getting a medal with them, and also felt indebted to people like Netball Singapore chief executive Cyrus Medora and head coach Annette Bishop, who were always encouraging her.
Netball has also been something that has brought her family together since she made her international debut at the 2011 World Netball Championship.
They would turn up to support her at local and overseas competitions. Soh also hopes to honour her grandmother, who died on Monday night.
She recalled how her grandmother had been “smiling from ear to ear” at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, as Malaysian fans started hugging and congratulating her on Soh’s performance after the final, which the hosts won.
These reasons were what motivated her to diligently go for rehabilitation three to four times a week, as well as join the national team for weights training and their court sessions once a week to practise shooting as they prepared for the July 28-Aug 6 Netball World Cup.
But it was tough at times, with Soh saying that it took some time before there was progress.
Soh said: “Sometimes I felt like I could start doing something then the next day you’re back to ground zero...
“The first few months were very painful physically, emotionally and mentally because I didn’t know if I could return to where I was before, not just for netball but walking and running.”
One thing Soh is looking forward to is being able to compete again with her teammates.
She said: “I really enjoyed the team talks, I enjoy the part after training, the team gelling together, how you can joke about anything and you feel like there’s someone there for you. On court, everyone is there for each other.”
Bishop believes Soh’s return is important for the squad, saying: “It adds a bit more experience to the team and that calmness on court.
“I just want to see that continued growth that we’ve seen from the worlds. They put out some exceptional performances there so we need to be on our A game again for the Nations Cup. The ultimate goal is to be in that final and the biggest one is to actually win it.”
Tickets for the Oct 22-28 Nations Cup are available via ticketmaster.sg