Netball: Aitken re-appointed for four more years

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) showed its faith in Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken by today re-appointing her for a four-year term.

After a thorough review process the NNZ Board said today in a statement it was confident that Aitken was the best coach to take the Silver Ferns forward.

A new assistant will be needed after Leigh Gibbs announced she was stepping down from the role.

Netball New Zealand Chief Executive Raelene Castle said the board had conducted an internal and external review which examined the team's performance over the past four years.

"We are confident that Ruth can extend the Silver Ferns' outstanding record of international success achieved since she was appointed in 2002," she said.

Aitken coached the Silver Ferns to win the 2003 world championships and the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal.

She was named coach of the year at the 2003 Halberg Awards and was a finalist for the same award in 2005 and 2006.

The Silver Ferns were runners-up to Australia at last year's world championships in Auckland.

Under Aitken, the Silver Ferns have won 56 of their 68 tests for an 82 per cent winning record.

Aitken was pleased with the extension of her contract.

"I am very proud to accept the Board's appointment and look forward to working to regain the No 1 world ranking and retain our Commonwealth Games gold medal," Aitken said.

Former national captain Gibbs decided to stand down as assistant, following six years in that role, to focus on her full time position as coach development manager with NNZ.

She will continue to have a key role in the high performance and game development programmes.

"Working with Aitken and the Silver Ferns has given me some of the most memorable experiences in netball and I'm now excited about helping other coaches make the most of their development opportunities," Gibbs said.

Gibbs is the only New Zealander to win world netball titles as a player (1979), captain (1987) and assistant coach (2003).

Castle lauded Gibbs' achievements.

"Leigh has made a magnificent contribution to the Silver Ferns and we are delighted that her skills and experience will continue to work with high performance and game Development to work develop the next generation of great New Zealand coaches," Castle said.

NNZ will announce the process for appointing a new assistant coach in the coming weeks.


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