Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager will remain head coach of the team after the London Olympics having extended his contract with Hockey New Zealand from January 2012 through till the end of 2014.
Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole says the knowledge, expertise, leadership and inspiration that Hager brings to the role has been a huge factor to the Black Sticks rise in rankings over the last two years.
“We are absolutely delighted that Mark has chosen to stay on with the team. He is held in such high regard by the international hockey community, so to have him stay with the New Zealand team beyond London is a real coup,” says Poole.
Hager believes that this Black Sticks team has real promise and that their drive and eagerness to learn and achieve on the world stage has been the main reason for him signing up for another two years.
“These players have real potential for the future. The last two years has been a learning curve, but if we stay together I think this group can achieve some really outstanding results in the future. I really enjoy coaching this group, they are very receptive to learning and they have reached some important milestones in the last couple of years,” says Hager.
Although Hager has taken the team from 12th to sixth ranked team in the world, he says the biggest highlight is seeing the players develop skills and achieve top results.
“When you have players like Stacey Michelsen and Charlotte Harrison being nominated by their peers and world coaches for 2011 FIH Young Player of the Year and Kayla Sharland named in the 2010 FIH All Stars Team, that is a real buzz,” says Hager.
A born-and-bred Queenslander, Hager’s family are settled in Albany with three daughters at school on the North Shore and he says the way in which the hockey community has welcomed them has also helped his decision to stay.
A former Australian hockey player, Hager holds the title as Australia’s highest goal scorer (179 from 231 games) having played for the Kookaburras for 11 years. Hager’s coaching history includes Australia’s National Junior Men’s and Women’s head coach, as well as Australia’s National Men’s and Women’s assistant coach.
The Black Sticks Women’s programme and Hager’s contract will be reviewed, as part of a standard process, at the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup.
Key highlights since Hager started as Black Sticks coach:
NZ women’s ranking 2009: 12
NZ women’s ranking 2011: 6
· 2011 Women’s Oceania Cup – Gold Medal
· 2011 Women’s Champions Trophy – Bronze Medal
· 2010 Commonwealth Games – Silver Medal
· 2009 Women’s Champions Challenge – Gold Medal
o Qualified for 2010 Champions Trophy
· 2009 Women’s Oceania Cup – Gold Medal
o Qualified for 2010 World Cup