Netball: New Zealander Natalie Milicich to take over as Singapore's national coach

The national netball team will likely be led by Natalie Milicich, with her appointment as coach imminent.
The national netball team will likely be led by Natalie Milicich, with her appointment as coach imminent.PHOTO: NATALIE MILICICH/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore's netball team are set to receive a new coach in New Zealander Natalie Milicich.

The Straits Times understands that she arrives on Sunday (Sept 10) and will take up her new role from this week.

She was recommended to the post by former national coach and technical director Ruth Aitken, as well as former New Zealand coach Yvonne Willering. Both are among the biggest names in the sport, having led the Silver Ferns, who are ranked second in the world, at some point in their careers.

Aitken stepped down as Singapore coach at the end of last year after a three-year stint. Assistant coach Yeo Mee Hong has led the team as national interim coach since, including during last month's SEA Games, when Singapore failed to retain the gold medal they claimed in 2015.

Netball Singapore declined to comment on Milicich's appointment.

The 50-year-old was most recently the head coach and performance manager of New Zealand's Netball Central Zone team. Under her charge, Central were undefeated en route to winning the Beko Netball League tournament in June.

The Beko Netball League is a developmental competition one tier below the ANZ Premiership, which is New Zealand's top domestic netball league. The Premiership started this year as the successor to the ANZ Championship, which was contested by five Australian teams and five New Zealand teams from 2008 until its final season last year.

During the first year of the ANZ Championship, Milicich had assisted then-Northern Mystics coach Willering as team manager.

According to Central Zone's website, Milicich has also coached at the National Provincial Championships, senior club and Under-23 levels.

ST understands that both Aitken and Willering will mentor Milicich during her time as Singapore coach.

Willering was in town in July to assist the Singapore team on defensive strategies.

Aitken, who led the national team to the Asian Championship gold in 2014 and SEA Games gold in 2015, has remained involved with Singapore netball since her departure. She met the team during their overseas training stints to New Zealand in the months leading up to the SEA Games.

The 61-year-old was also courtside at most of the national team's matches at the Games in Kuala Lumpur, where she also acted as a mentor to the Singapore coaches.

The Singapore team's next international competition is the Dec 3-9 Mission Foods Nations Cup. Their other major target is next year's Asian Championship where they will seek to regain the title from Malaysia. Both competitions will be held in Singapore.