Netball Central's Ngarama Milner-Olsen was quick to acknowledge a cast of many after taking out the National Netball League (NNL) Coach of the Year title at the 2023 New Zealand Netball Awards.

On the back of a strong legacy, Milner-Olsen continued a fine tradition when guiding Central Manawa to a fifth NNL title in 2023, in her first year as head coach.

The rookie head coach said success was built on the quality of personnel involved and the established systems which have proved a winning formula for both sister team Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse and Manawa in recent seasons.

"It's a bit uncomfortable, to be honest. It was a surprise when I got the phone call. You don't do it for the accolades, you do it because you're passionate about the sport. But it is a nice surprise," Milner-Olsen said.

"For my first year, I found there's a lot more that goes into coaching than just what you see out on court. So, it was about learning all the systems, all the layers underneath and that alone was a new experience for me as a coach and being at that level.

"But it was also very inclusive. It never lies with just one coach. I was lucky to have the backbone of our Zone behind me, and have two assistant coaches who are experienced in their own right, ex-players, a defensive specialist, a shooting specialist in Cushla Lichtwark and Renee Matoe.

"We're very lucky in the Zone to have well-qualified people to support you, know the skill-set that you have and that trust you. Sometimes, you just need that person to shoulder-tap you and encourage you to take on the role."

Coming through the Zone as a player, the former Pulse midcourter, has rubbed shoulders with many of the personnel involved at Netball Central during that time, as well as her transition into the coaching ranks.

She has been coached by former Pulse mentor Yvette McCausland-Durie and Netball Central's Director of High Performance Waimarama Taumaunu while being assistant to in-coming Pulse head coach Anna Andrews-Tasola with Manawa in 2022.

"They all have their own ways but they support the whole programme and individuals. For myself, they just put trust and belief in us to do our job," Milner-Olsen said.

"With Manawa, there's a huge team behind us, the systems we have in place and the expectation from the start is certainly clear.

"So, when players come into the framework, they have a clear understanding of what's expected. And there's also the passion for the yellow dress, it bleeds strong here and is something we're really proud of."

After getting away to a fast start in the 2023 campaign, Manawa had some challenges to overcome before securing a spot in the Grand Final but with that came resilience.

"We grew throughout the season and without the bumps in the road, we wouldn't have had the learnings we picked up along the way and which helped deliver the final outcome," Milner-Olsen said.

"We were a tight-knit group blended with a mixture of experience and youth and that proved the winning formula.

"Our systems and expectations at NNL level are really important to ensure the players are well prepared mentally, physically and emotionally to be able to make the next step up if that's where they want to go.

"We have got a Zone where people are invested. They're invested in the future and it doesn't just start at the Pulse. It starts at an early age, from school years and we have amazing coaches in amongst our school talent.

"That's pretty much where it starts and we continue to keep that support wrapped around them all the way through."