Thursday, November 30, 2023

Mark Hager goes full circle with Australia Hockey women’s role

Mark Hager aims “to give back” to Australia by taking up a role to blood the next generation of Hockeyroos.

The former Kookaburras Olympic captain has been appointed as Hockey Australia’s pathway programme lead for women. Former Kookaburras star Mark Knowles, who was in both positions, will focus on the men.

Having previously been an assistant coach for the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras, as well as head coach of Australia’s under-21 teams, Hager returns after over a decade away from his homeland.

He left the UK last week after resigning from his post at GB women, where he led the team to Tokyo bronze, after two fourth-place Olympics finishes with the Black Sticks.

“Having been through the Australian system as a player and a coach I am excited to be able to contribute to the pathway of a sport that has given me so much over my career,” said Hager.

“From my experiences gained outside of Australia I feel it is now time to give back to the pathways system that shaped my playing and coaching over many years.

Hannah Martin and Anna Toman race towards Maddie Hinch after last eight shoot-out win PIC: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

“I look forward to working with the key stakeholders in building a strong culture to enable an increased performance capacity as well as ensuring the wellbeing of athletes and staff as we build a platform for sustained success.”

Hockey Australia Acting CEO Michael Johnston said: “Mark is a proven world class coach with an extensive demonstrated history in successfully developing athletes and his appointment to this role is really exciting for the growth of Australian hockey.

“With 21 years as an Olympic coach, Mark brings these experiences and observations back home to the next generation of Olympians as we chase success in Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032.”

Knowles and Hager’s roles were created after a restructure of the HA National Athlete Pathways Programme. This meant having new technical lead positions to oversee the alignment of the athlete pathway from grassroots to the national teams.

Hager is scheduled to begin in the role in early November.

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