Friday, June 14, 2024

Hockey Australia report discovers ‘dysfunctional culture’

Matt Favier, Hockey Australia’s chief executive, remained bullish after a damning report into the Hockeyroos’ programme discovered a “dysfunctional culture”.

Hockey Australia (HA) didn’t release the report publicly on Thursday – the independent review having interviewed more than 100 people as part of its findings.

However in a joint statement, Favier and HA president Melanie Woosnam said the national governing body’s culture is “not conducive to athlete wellbeing or sustained on-field success” and vowed to rebuild the whole programme.

The 29 recommendations, commissioned by Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport, was detailed in an eight-page report on ‘Australia’s Golden Girls’.

Recommendation highlights

  • The need to ensure an effective leadership model implemented across all aspects of the Hockeyroos’ programme, including coaching, support staff and across the playing group
  • Striking an improved balance with the demands of the high-performance programme and life outside of hockey
  • Ensuring engagement at every level from the board, senior management, coaches, support staff and players is safe and respectful
  • Improvements in a range of governance areas to ensure greater oversight and the tracking of culture of both men’s and women’s programs
  • Embedding a culture of mutual respect and trust between all participants in the delivery of the high performance programme.

Responding to the report

On homophobic and bullying allegations within the Hockeyroos’ programme, Favier said there were no “raised red flags” in the review, while there was no case of staff to player bullying.

He told AAP: “There is a suggestion that (between players) there were some incidents – the word bullying wouldn’t be the correct definition, but certainly some tensions between players from time to time.

“The accusations that were levelled to the program, my view is that they were based on previous cycles and/or experiences past players may have had under previous regimes, but not under the current regime.”

Hockeyroo exits

Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin made the shock decision to quit on Wednesday on the eve of the report.

Paul Gaudoin is a former Kookaburras defender (PIC: Grant Treeby)

Gaudoin’s exit came two months after high-performance manager Toni Cumpston quit after she lost the support of the HA board.

Women’s assistant coach Steph Andrews and HA selector Sharon Buchanan also left the programme.

Players’ revolt

Problems within the women’s programme arose in December when key players were omitted from the Tokyo Olympic squad.

That period saw a plethora of former and ex Hockeyroos speak out over the “toxic” and “destructive” culture engulfing the women’s programme.

It sparked reports of a players’ strike over the way the Perth programme had been conducted over the last 10 years, while Australian newspapers, TV and radio ran stories alluding to bullying and players’ mental health concerns.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported that complaints include “allegations of bullying, body-shaming and homophobic behaviour, which has reportedly led to players developing serious eating disorders and mental health issues.”

What’s next?

“I really believe I’m the right person to move the business forward and be part of the solution,” Favier told AAP.

Current assistant coach Katie Allen has been appointed interim head coach. HA said that it would be appointing a coach for Tokyo within a fortnight.

Gaudoin’s decision to axe top goalkeeper Rachael Lynch and Georgia Morgan from the 2021 squad list is the next issue to be dealt with.

It is understood a tribunal hearing will convene in the next few weeks as Lynch and Morgan appeal their omissions.

Total Hockey


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