Netball: Singapore netball aims high with Milicich at the helm

New Zealander Natalie Milicich (left) is the new national netball coach, taking over from compatriot Ruth Aitken.
New Zealander Natalie Milicich (above) is the new national netball coach, taking over from compatriot Ruth Aitken.

It was a search that required almost a year of patience, but Netball Singapore (NS) is confident it has landed the right person to lead the national team.

New Zealander Natalie Milicich was yesterday announced as the new national coach, confirming the news The Straits Times (ST) had reported over the weekend.

The 50-year-old mother of four beat seven other applicants to the post though that is of little surprise given that she came recommended by her predecessor Ruth Aitken as well as Yvonne Willering. Both Kiwis had previously led world netball powerhouse New Zealand.

Aitken, 61, stepped down at the end of last year after three successful years as Singapore coach and technical director, a stint that included winning the 2014 Asian Championship and the highly coveted 2015 SEA Games gold medal.

Such references played a part in her appointment, while Milicich's proven track record and results in coaching was also a factor.

Said Milicich: "I'm excited to be here and look forward to settling in and working with this team of talented sportswomen. I spoke with Ruth when I accepted the job and I'm confident I will continue her legacy and lead the team well."

Most recently the head coach and performance manager of New Zealand's Netball Central Zone team, her charges were undefeated en route to lifting the Beko Netball League title in June.

The Beko Netball League is a developmental competition below the top-tier ANZ Premiership.

NS chief executive Cyrus Medora said that with most of the sport's top coaches engaged by major leagues, the association had to endure a wait to ensure that it was attracting good talent in its search.

He added that while Milicich's first major assignment will be the Dec 3-9 Mission Foods Nations Cup, the more critical task would be next year's Asian Championship on home soil. Singapore is hoping to wrest the title back from Malaysia, having lost the crown as well as last month's SEA Games final to their Causeway rivals.

Said NS president Jessica Tan: "We are delighted to appoint Natalie as the new coach of the national team and look forward to working closely with her. We believe her extensive experience will be a great boost to the team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore netball aims high with Milicich at the helm'. Print Edition | Subscribe