Graham Shaw, New Zealand women’s hockey coach, has quit his role ahead of the Women’s World Cup and Commonwealth Games to return to Ireland. The Hockey Paper understands that the Irishman had been placed on gardening leave.
New Zealand Hockey said on Thursday that Shaw, the former Ireland women’s coach, was ending his thee-year stint in charge of the Black Sticks, who were beaten in the Tokyo Olympic quarter-final stages.
Shaw said: “It’s been a huge honour to guide this team through what has been the most challenging of times for any high-performance team and I’m proud of how we’ve managed those challenges.
“We’ve loved living in New Zealand, but no-one could have predicted a pandemic back then, let alone how tough it would be to maintain a programme and prepare for events like the Olympics with lockdowns and huge restrictions.
“It’s been a difficult call to make with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup ahead of us this year, but I have had to weigh up what’s best for our family after being away from home and unable to visit our wider family for so long.
Shaw said that he was leaving the Black Sticks’ future in capable hands after recent coaching additions, including Olympian Shea McAleese, former NZ junior coach Verity Sharland, and current Hockey NZ athlete pathway manager Bryce Collins.
Shaw added: “It was hard to see myself in the role beyond 2022 especially with the pull of family back in Ireland. Therefore, I thought that it’s important to step away now and let the group set itself for the long term. We’ve assembled a high calibre coaching group around the programme and I know I leave them in good hands.”
Hockey NZ general manager Darren Smith said: “Graham is an excellent coach … he leaves New Zealand with our immense gratitude for the work he has done.”