No rush in search for netball coach successor
Netball body prepared to wait for quality coaches as assistant coach Yeo takes the reins from Aitken
National netball coach Ruth Aitken returned to her native New Zealand yesterday morning and the national body will take its time to appoint her successor.
Netball Singapore (NS) chief executive Cyrus Medora told The New Paper yesterday that long-time assistant national coach Yeo Mee Hong will be the acting national coach until they appoint a new trainer, which could be as late as July next year.
Medora said: "The world's top 20 coaches are all tied up in leagues in England, Australia and New Zealand, and there's no point in looking at the next tier because our coaches are at that level.
"We want someone to give us that extra edge."
Yesterday morning, Aitken managed to keep her emotions in check as about 15 players, NS staff and officials gathered at Changi Airport Terminal 3 to bid farewell to the 60-year-old.
But it will not be the last time that the netballers will see of the former Silver Ferns player and coach. Chief executive Medora revealed that the national team will head to New Zealand for a training trip in February, where they will be coached by Aitken and Yeo.
"I am looking forward to bringing the girls into my neck of the woods and showing them around," said Aitken, who will become the performance manager for club side Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in New Zealand.
Aitken and Yeo have already worked out a training programme for the team, whose main task next year will be the defence of their South-east Asia Games gold in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Medora said that he is also looking at bringing Aitken back on an ad hoc consultancy role before the new coach is appointed.
During Aitken's three-year tenure as national coach and technical director, Singapore clinched the 2014 Asian championship, but finished third in this year's edition.
The team also won the SEA Games gold in June last year on home ground, and finished 15th in the World Cup just two months later.
Under Aitken, the Republic also reached their highest world ranking of 15th. Singapore are now ranked 20th.
National co-vice-captain Charmaine Soh lauded Aitken's talent for developing and motivating players.
The 26-year-old said: "Whenever any of us said, 'I can't do it', she would go, 'I can't do it, yet'.
"So now, whenever I come across tough situations, I would think of her and her advice."