Charlesworth commits to Kookaburras until the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth has committed to the Kookaburras beyond the upcoming 2012 London Olympics, signing on to coach the national men’s team until 2014.

Following the 2012 London Olympics Charlesworth will continue to guide the team to the 2014 World Cup held in the Netherlands in June and at this stage step away from the role after the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in August.

Charlesworth has long been regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever sports coaches, having already achieved some remarkable results with the Kookaburras since taking over after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Kookaburras, currently ranked number one in the world, have won every major title available while under Charlesworth including the 2009 and 2010 Champions Trophy tournaments, the 2010 World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Charlesworth helped the Kookaburras create history in 2010, becoming the first team ever to win all three major tournaments (Champions Trophy, World Cup & Commonwealth Games) in the one year. With the 2010 Champions Trophy win, they become the first team in history to go through a Champions Trophy tournament without a loss and only lost three of a possible 37 games for the entire year.

The Kookaburras have an impressive record while under Charlesworth, with a 80% winning ratio. Charlesworth also coached the Hockeyroos from 1993 to 2000, leading them to two Olympic gold medals, two World Cup gold medals and four Champions Trophy gold medals from five tournaments. Amazingly overall he has coached at two Olympic Games, two Commonwealth Games and three World Cups, and has won gold on every occasion.

Hockey Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said it was pleasing to announce that Charlesworth would continue as the Kookaburras coach for further two years beyond the London Olympics.

“We recognise that Ric is one of Australia’s best and most successful international coaches. The contract extension ensures that we are able to retain his vast insight and experience within the Australian system to deliver further success and develop our next generation of international players,” said Anderson.

“With only twelve months to go until the Olympics our primary focus is to ensure that we achieve success inLondon”, said Anderson. 

“However it is also our responsibility to ensure that we are planning to achieve ongoing and sustainable success beyond the current Olympic cycle. We are confident that Ric is the person who will position us for future success.  We will be working together to ensure a smooth and successful transition in 2014 following the completion of our World Cup and Commonwealth Games campaigns,” said Anderson.

Hockey Australia also acknowledges the significant Australian Government support it receives to ensure the best personnel and facilities are available for its teams. 

Charlesworth said he believed it would be the appropriate time to move on after six years in the job by 2014.

“The demands of the job are substantial. I believe it takes 4 to 6 years before you consolidate your impact on the team and it is not unusual for teams to appoint coaches during an Olympic cycle,” said Charlesworth.

Rather than thinking about what lies ahead for Charlesworth beyond 2014, he said for the moment his focus will remain on leading the team at the 2012 London Olympics, highlighting how critical the next three months are to the team’s hopes of winning gold.

“London is the short term – medium term goal. We have to make the most of the next three months as we race towards London. So far (under his guidance) I think we have played good hockey, but we are far from solid yet,” said Charlesworth.

Charlesworth said he hopes the Kookaburras recent inconsistent showing during last month’s tour of Europe would serve as a reminder as to how much work the team still has to do ahead of the London Olympics.

“We have only been together as a full squad for one week since the Commonwealth Games last October. So therefore the next three months is critical. We have had some difficulties including the number of injuries and the fact that we haven’t had our squad together in the one place due to players playing club hockey in Europe. So we have a lot of work to do to consolidate what has been a good start but we were reminded in Europehow good our opposition are and how well we need to play,” said Charlesworth.

The Kookaburras and Charlesworth are set for an exciting 12 months as they head towards the London Olympics. After competing in the Oceania Cup in Hobart and the newly created International Super Series event in Perth in October, Charlesworth will lead the Kookaburras to the 2011 Champions Trophy in December.