Netball: Singapore get a new national coach

New Zealander Natalie Milicich will also prepare the Singapore team for next year's Asian Championship.
New Zealander Natalie Milicich will also prepare the Singapore team for next year's Asian Championship.

Kiwi Milicich arrives today ahead of the team's next assignment, the Dec 3-9 Nations Cup

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

The Sunday Times (ST) understands that she arrives today and will take up her new role 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. Singapore failed to retain the gold medal they claimed in 2015, settling for silver in Kuala Lumpur.

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 in June.

The Beko Netball League is a developmental competition one tier below the ANZ Premiership, which is New Zealand's top domestic league. The Premiership this year replaced the ANZ Championship, which was contested by five Australian teams and five New Zealand teams since 2008.

During the first year of the ANZ Championship, Milicich 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 on home soil, 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, where she also acted as a mentor to the Singapore coaches.

World No. 18 Singapore's next international competition is the Dec 3-9 Mission Foods Nations Cup. Their other major event is next year's Asian Championship, where they will seek to regain the title from Malaysia. Both competitions will be held in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore get new netball coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe