Netball: Plotting S'pore's progress

Netball: Plotting S'pore's progress
New Zealander Ruth Aitken loves a challenge. She wants to help world No.21 Singapore move up the rungs.

SINGAPORE - Ruth Aitken has not had an idle moment since touching down in Singapore on Monday night.

In just two days, Netball Singapore's new technical director and national coach has already watched the national team in action, observed the Under-21 squad train, sorted out all the necessary paperwork for her stay here, and even scouted for an apartment.

In between all that, she still has time to tend to a lingering worry.

"The names," the 56-year-old joked on Thursday at the sport's Kallang headquarters.

Mastering the pronunciation of her new charges' names may be tricky for the New Zealander, but she has never been one to shy from a challenge.

In fact, the thirst for a new challenge was precisely why Aitken - who has won the netball world championship both as a player and a coach with the Silver Ferns - signed up for the job in Singapore.

"I love different challenges. It's that whole thing about helping others grow and develop, and become the best that they can be," she said.

New Zealand are the world's top team. Singapore, the Asian champions, are ranked No. 21.

Said Aitken, who has been engaged on a two-year contract: "Coaching is all about acknowledging where the individual is, and working out how to take them to the next level.

"It's being aware of the needs of the player, instead of me coming in and saying, 'This is what we do, now get out and do it.'

"Coaching with a remote control is not what I like to do."

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