Daisy Tan

Daisy Tan Quee Hong née Lim (b. 12 February 1926, Singapore–d. 26 January 2004, Singapore1) helped establish the Singapore Women’s Netball Association (SWNA) (now Netball Singapore) and led it for 25 years.2 She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Asian Federation of Netball Associations and was its inaugural president.Despite having minimal resources at her disposal, Tan brought the netball world championships to Singapore in 1983,4 and established a national team, with netball becoming the most popular sport for girls in Singapore during the 1990s.5

Early life
Tan was the second of six children. Her father was an accountant, and her mother was a teacher. Tan was very active as a child and grew up playing with marbles and gasing (spinning tops). She first learnt to play netball in Standard Seven (at 14 years of age) when it was introduced at Raffles Girls’ School where she studied. She had completed Standard Eight when her education was disrupted due to the outbreak of World War II. 6

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), Tan’s father worked as a bookkeeper at Echigoya, a Japanese textile company. Tan and her sister were also employed there as salesgirls. She then learnt stenography before working at Seletar Naval Base as a clerk. The Seletar Naval Base had a paymaster who was a Japanese language fanatic and organised weekly Japanese tests where workers with high scores were rewarded with rice. The chance of scoring high marks in the weekly tests and receiving a rice reward motivated Tan to study the Japanese language at a language school at Queen Street. Around the end of the Japanese Occupation, Tan participated in interchurch athletic competitions, where she performed well in the 100-yard sprint events. Tan also represented her church in badminton and table tennis.

After the war, Tan worked for the British army as a typist at Goodwood Park Hotel before joining the Young Women’s Christian Association as a secretary around 1949. In 1951, she was employed by Fraser and Neave (F&N), where she was a stenographer8 and then a secretary until 1979.9 Thanks to the recreational facilities at River Valley Road that F&N offered its employees, Tan was able to organise and captain a netball team drawn from the clerical and typing pools in the early 1960s. She also organised netball matches with teams from other companies and private clubs.10

Major accomplishments
Development of netball in Singapore
Tan’s team was one of many in Singapore, but the popular sport needed a national body to regulate and promote it. In 1962, she and over 20 other clubs and teams founded the Singapore Women’s Netball Association (SWNA).11 Tan was one of the association’s two vice-presidents from March 1964 to 1966.12 She then became its president and served in that capacity until 1991.13 In 1981, the organisation was renamed the Singapore Netball Association. Since 1997, it has been known as Netball Singapore.14

Besides being an efficient administrator, Tan was also a maternal figure to the players,15 and the SWNA was said to enjoy a high level of camaraderie.16

In addition to organising schedules and training coaches and umpires,17 the SWNA bolstered the game’s expansion by encouraging commercial firms to sponsor teams in the business houses league.18 It was said that Tan was driven by “her dream [to] give every girl in Singapore a chance to play netball”.19 She also tried to interest men in the sport, but this endeavour did not take off.20

In 1972, the National Sports Promotion Board launched the interconstituency games programme but excluded netball. Tan subsequently persuaded the board to add netball to the event, and it became one of the most popular games.21 The Serangoon Gardens club, which was managed by Tan, won the first interconstituency title22 when the netball tournament was introduced in April 1977. It then won the Singapore league the following month.23
Tan also fought the government’s removal of netball from the school sports calendar in 1971, which resulted in declined interest in the sport for a time.24 In 1980, the Ministry of Education reinstated netball in its sports calendar, thus boosting the popularity of netball among schools in Singapore and forming a wider base for future national team selections for representation at international meets. 25 The establishment of the Kallang Netball Centre in 1992 during Tan’s last year as president before her retirement, marked a new era in Singapore netball. The centre is testament to netball being the top team sport among women in Singapore then, and to Tan’s 20 years of dedication to the sport and its development.26

Singapore netball at the international level
According to Tan, one of the SWNA’s major achievements was the establishment of the national team in 1965, for which she was variously coach and manager throughout the years. While the team did not find great success during this time, they still attempted to play abroad every year (supported by fundraising activities), so as to sharpen their skills and learn from stronger teams.27

Singapore was named host of the sixth World Netball Tournament, which was held from 11 to 24 June 1983.28 Singapore holds the honour of being the first country in Asia to host this international event.29 Tan chaired the organising committee and persuaded F&N and the distributor of the tournament ball to contribute S$40,000 each towards the cost of the tournament,30 which was held at Kent Ridge at the National University of Singapore.31

During the 1985 World Netball Tournament, the Asian Federation of Netball Associations (ANF) was formed32 with Tan as its first president.33 Her tenure at the ANF closely followed her presidency at the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) from 1979 to 1983.34 She also served on IFNA's council between 1967 and 1991.35

Recognition and retirement
Tan’s contributions to netball in Singapore had been in a wholly voluntary capacity. She held a variety of posts, such as Chairman of Coaches, Umpires and Selection Committees. Her efforts were recognised when she was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1990.36 She also received a Certificate of Commendation from the Singapore Sports Council in 1979 and IFNA’s Service Award in 1987.37

Partly due to health reasons, Tan stepped down as president of the then Singapore Netball Association in 199238 and was succeeded by Ivy Singh-Lim.39

Tan died in Singapore on 26 January 2004, 10 days after officiating at the Daisy Tan carnival,40 the annual season-opener named in her honour.41

Family
Husband: Geoffrey Tan Hoay Djin (b.1921d. 1 May 200742), a magistrate.43

The couple had four children.44



Author
Duncan Sutherland



References
1. “Untitled: Daisy Tan-Lim Quee Hong,” Straits Times, 27 January 2004, 10(From NewspaperSG); Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 21 November 2001, MP3 audio 29:04, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 002580)
2. “Big Loss for Netball Singapore,” Today, 28 January 2004, 39. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78,” Straits Times, 28 January 2004, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “Big Loss for Netball Singapore”; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 4 December 2001, MP3 audio 25:01, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 002580); Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 16 January 2002, MP3 audio 25:53, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 002580)
5. New Netball Centre Boosts Sport, Sports, 20, no. 6 (July 1992), 18. (Call no. RSING 796.05 S)
6. Lim, oral history interview, 16 January 2002.
7. Lim, oral history interview, 16 January 2002; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 21 November 2001, MP3 audio 26:52, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
8. Lim, oral history interview, 21 November 2001; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 4 December 2001, MP3 audio 25:18, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580).
9. Joyce Tan, “Singapore Almost Certain to Host Next World Meet,” New Nation, 5 August 1979, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Lim, oral history interview, 21 November 2001; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 12 December 2001, MP3 audio 28:30, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
11. Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 21 November 2001, MP3 audio 27:50, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 002580); Nancy Koh, “Getting Ready for New Season,” New Nation, 2 February 1974, 11; “Netball S’pore Tour by Ceylon and Aussie Teams,” Straits Times, 1 April 1963, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “SWNA Officials,” Straits Times, 3 March 1964, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
14. “Netball Singapore Celebrates 50thAnniversary,” Netball Singapore, accessed 10 March 2021.
15. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
16. Lim, oral history interview, 12 December 2001; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 5 February 2002, MP3 audio 27:14, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
17. Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 16 January 2002, MP3 audio 29:55, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
18. Joyce Tan, “SWNA Score Another First,” New Nation, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Untitled: Mrs Daisy Tan,” Straits Times, 28 January 2004, 9(From NewspaperSG)
20. Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 8 January 2002, MP3 audio 24:14, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
21. Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 8 January 2002, MP3 audio 26:15, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
22. Christine Chew, “Serangoon Garden Bow Out after 8 Years,” Singapore Monitor, 8 May 1985, 26. (From NewspaperSG)
23. Joyce Tan, “It’s Daisy Tan Again as President,” New Nation, 20 February 1977, 26. (From NewspaperSG)
24. Lim Daisy Quee Hong, oral history interview by Zarina Yusof, 8 January 2002, MP3 audio 28:21, National Archives of Singapore. (accession no. 002580)
25. Joyce Tan, “Schools Ask SWNA for Rule Books and Coaches,” New Nation, 20 January 1980, 30 (From NewspaperSG); International Federation of Netball Associations, International Federation of Netball Associations: Report of the sixth conference 11th—24th June 1983 (Singapore: Singapura Press, 1985), 57–58. (Call no. RCLOS 796.32 REP).
26. “New Netball Centre Boosts Sport,” 18.
27. Lim, oral history interview, 4 December 2001; Lim, oral history interview, 12 December 2001; Lim, oral history interview, 12 December 2001
28. “Aid for World Netball Meet,” Singapore Monitor, 18 April 1983, 22. (From NewspaperSG); “About Us,” Netball Singapore, accessed 10 March 2021.
29. Netball Singapore, “About Us.” 
30. “Aid for World Netball Meet”; Lim, oral history interview, 16 January 2002.
31. “Singapore 1983,” International Netball Federation, accessed 8 April 2021.
32. Lim, oral history interview, 8 January 2002.
33. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
34. “Service Awards 1987,” Netball, 10, no.3 (December 1987), 3 (Call no. RSING 796.32095957 N); “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
35. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
36. National Day Honours, 1990, G. N. 2248, Government Gazette, 2248 (Call no. RSING 959.57 SGG); “Service Awards 1987,” 3.
37. “Service Awards 1987,” 3.
38. “New Netball Centre Boosts Sport” 18; Netball Singapore, “About Us”; Lim, oral history interview, 5 February 2002.
39. Netball Singapore, “About Us”; Lim, oral history interview, 12 December 2001; Lim Daisy Quee Hong, by Zarina Yusof, 16 January 2002, MP3 audio 28:39, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 002580); Lim, oral history interview, 5 February 2002.
40. “Daisy Tan Carnival,” Straits Times, 8 January 2005, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
41. “Netball Pioneer Daisy Tan Dies at 78.”
42. “Untitled: Geoffrey Tan Hoay Djin,” Straits Times, 3 May 2007, 44. (From NewspaperSG)
43. “Mr. Tan Makes Legal History with a First…,” Straits Times, 22 September 1966, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
44. “Untitled: Daisy Tan-Lim Quee Hong.”



Further resources
C. Tan, “History of Netball in Singapore,” Netball, 1, no, 2 (July 1978), 2. (Call no. RSING 796.2095957 N)

D. Tan, “President Message” [sic], Netball, 12, no. 2 (June 1989), 2. (Call no. RSING 796.2095957 N)

“Interviews with Prominent Women in Sports Officialdom: Daisy Tan, President of SWNA,” Sports, 16, no. 4 (April 1988), 10. (Call no. RSING 796.05 S)



The information in this article is valid as at April 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Netball
Tan, Daisy, 1926-2004
Recreation>>Sports
Sports and games
Women netball players--Singapore--Biography
Sports officials--Singapore--Biography