Australian hockey has become embroiled in controversy months out from the Tokyo Olympics after the Hockeyroos’ squad selection for 2021 saw two key players omitted and potential strike action mooted.
Following Hockey Australia’s squad announcement – which had the hashtag ‘ROOthless’ – Rachael Lynch, the FIH world goalkeeper of the year, and former co-captain Georgina Morgan were left out of the squad.
According to reports Down Under, the notable omissions saw an emergency meeting convened by 15 Hockeyroos in Perth while a training session this week was boycotted, said the Australian Associated Press. A players’ strike was also discussed.
Hockey Australia were notified of player unrest following a letter sent by the Australian Hockey Players’ Association – set up in 2016 to cover the men’s and women’s squads – while the union said that appeals had been lodged to reinstate the experienced pair.
Hockey Australia had only recently launched an indepedent enquiry into the women’s programme after several players spoke out against the national governing body over a negative culture in the set-up.
Earlier this year Lynch took up full-time nursing to fight the global pandemic. At 34, she is Australia’s most-capped keeper, while Morgan is one of three skippers who stepped down from the role in recent months, including Jodie Kenny, who retired from the international game in October.
Lynch was replaced in the Hockeyroos squad by Aleisha Power, who played three games for the women’s team in 2017.
Women’s head coach Paul Gaudoin said after the squad announcement on Wednesday that selection would spark mixed emotions, adding “that is the nature of high performance sport”.
He added: “Selection is always difficult and even more so this year. I empathise with the athletes who have missed out but the selection panel has chosen a squad that it believes gives the Hockeyroos the best chance of success not just in 2021 but over the next Olympic cycle.”
Hockey Australia said that due to the impact of COVID and the inability of some athletes to attend last month’s selection camp, there was the option of filling the full quota of 27 squad places in early 2021. This could mean that two players could be added.
The Hockey Paper has contacted Hockey Australia for comment.