Ruth Aitken

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Ruth Aitken
Aitken in 2022
Personal information
Full name Ruth Ellina Aitken (née Fathers)
Born (1956-07-31) 31 July 1956 (age 67)
Paeroa, New Zealand
Netball career
Playing position(s): WA
Years National team(s) Caps
1979 New Zealand 3
Coaching career
Years Team(s)
1998–1999 Counties Manukau Cometz
1999–2001 Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
2001–2011 New Zealand
Medal record
Representing  New Zealand
World Netball Championships
Gold medal – first place 1979 Trinidad and Tobago Netball

Dame Ruth Ellina Aitken DNZM (née Fathers; born 31 July 1956) is a New Zealand former international-level netball player and former head coach of the New Zealand national netball team, the Silver Ferns.

Aitken was born in 1956 in Paeroa.[1][2] Her parents were Phil and Dorothy Fathers, who moved from Auckland to Paeroa after Aitken had children; that way she could continue with the travel required for her netball coaching career.[3]

A former goal-attack, Aitken represented New Zealand in the 1979 World Netball Championships in Trinidad and Tobago, playing two warm-up games and then in one match against Ireland.[4]

Aitken became coach of the Silver Ferns in 2001, replacing Yvonne Willering.[4] During Aitken's tenure as national head coach, the Silver Ferns won the 2003 World Netball Championships and the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, but came second to Australia at both the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2007 World Netball Championships. In February 2008, Aitken was re-signed as national head coach for a further four years.[5] In late 2011, she retired as coach of the national team – and was later replaced by assistant Waimarama Taumaunu. In December 2012, it was announced that Aitken would take over as Technical Director and National Coach of Netball Singapore.[6] She is a member of the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.[7]

At the 2003 Halberg Awards, Aitken was awarded Coach of the Year.[3] In the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours, Aitken was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to netball, alongside Silver Ferns captain Casey Williams.[8] In the 2022 Queen's Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours, Aitken was promoted to Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to netball.[9]


  1. ^ Aitken, Ruth (September 2002). "Ruth Aitken (nee Fathers) – Family History". Ohinemuri Regional History Journal. 46. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  2. ^ New Zealand Olympic Committee profile. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b McFadden, Suzanne (6 June 2022). "Dame Ruth Aitken swaps one court for another". Newsroom. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b Rattue, Chris (7 October 2006). "Ruth Aitken profile". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
  5. ^ NZPA (23 February 2008). "Aitken re-appointed for four more years". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
  6. ^ "NETBALL SINGAPORE ANNOUNCE NEW NATIONAL COACH". 10 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Ruth Aitken ONZM". Sports Tribunal of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  8. ^ Johannsen, Dana (6 June 2011). "Honours for Ferns' coach and captain". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  9. ^ "The Queen's Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022". The New Zealand Herald. 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.

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