Netball: National head coach Ruth Aitken to step down at end of the year

National netball technical director and head coach Ruth Aitken will step down at the end of the year, having taken up a job back in her native New Zealand.
National netball technical director and head coach Ruth Aitken will step down at the end of the year, having taken up a job back in her native New Zealand.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - National netball technical director and head coach Ruth Aitken will step down at the end of the year, having taken up a job back in her native New Zealand.

The 60-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best coaches in netball, will become the performance manager for New Zealand's Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, a professional team that play in the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship.

She will be overseeing their elite coaching programme as well as the development of the players, coaches and umpires in the Waikato region.

Aitken, a popular figure among players since she joined Singapore in 2013, said family was the main reason behind a move back home.

She said: "I have absolutely loved my three years with Netball Singapore and the national team, but the time has come for me to return home to my family commitments in New Zealand.

"I leave with many fantastic memories and friendships and am delighted that Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic would like to work towards building a close connection with Netball Singapore in the future. I look forward to being able to liaise between the two organisations for the benefit of both."

Under Aitken, Singapore were crowned champions at the 2014 Asian Netball Championship and last year's SEA Games on home soil. Singapore also rose up from 21st to 17th in the world rankings.

In acknowledging Aitken's contributions, Netball Singapore president Jessica Tan said: "Ruth has played an instrumental role in shaping the success of the national team and in widening the pool of developmental players. She is an approachable and dedicated coach and she has instilled belief in the team that they can win.

"It will be hard to replace someone of such calibre but we wish her the very best in her new role."