Saturday, December 9, 2023

Great Britain Hockey warned of risk before hiring new coach

The appointment of Mark Hager, the Australian coach now in charge of the GB women’s team, was approved despite a “significant risk” over his signing, it has been reported.

Chelsea Warr, UK Sport’s director of performance, had urged GB Hockey officials to postpone the appointment of Hager until the findings of an independent review, which have yet to be released, were made known, according to The Times newspaper.

The review was commissioned after reports of a negative team culture in the Black Sticks’ camp emerged, while news of Hager’s new role was announced last month.

The paper reported on Friday that four weeks before Hager’s appointment, Warr sent England Hockey an email raising concerns that Hager’s ‘behaviour may be intensified due to the pressure of taking charge of the women’s Olympic champions’.

However The Hockey Paper reported last week that the players were told that England Hockey had undertaken a rigorous due diligence process before inking a deal with Hager.

Warr’s email says: “Is GB Hockey confident to appoint a coach who is the subject of an independent review without seeing the findings and recommendations? This is a significant risk and I wonder whether it would be prudent to pause the process until the review is finalised.”

The email, reported The Times and obtained via a Freedom of Information request, also stated that GB Hockey officials spoke to Hager’s lawyer “to get a feel for some of the contents” of the independent review and that “you described to me some examples of ‘losing temper, transparency of selection processes, regular use of inappropriate language’.”

UK Sport also raised concerns over the possibility of future scandal in the sport, following several high performance controversies in British Olympic sports, asking GB Hockey if it would be able to manage “potential reputational risks”.

New GB women’s coach Mark Hager  PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS

However Sally Munday, Great Britain Hockey’s chief executive, has remained consistently confident of both Hager’s appointment and his coaching style in the various statements she has given to the media.

Hager’s tenure got under way with a forgettable defeat to New Zealand on Friday night, although he has only had a matter of days meeting his new players.

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