Hockey Australia is pleased to announce the men's and women's national coaching appointments for the next four year Olympic cycle have been finalized.
Richard Charlesworth, arguably Australia's most credentialed player and coach ever, will take on the role as coach of the men's national team following the retirement of Barry Dancer who lead the Kookaburras through the last two Olympic campaigns.
Frank Murray has maintained his position as coach of the women's Hockeyroos team after taking on the role in 2004 and leading the team through the last Olympic cycle.
Charlesworth's remarkable credentials stack up like very few others, making him an ideal candidate to lead the Kookaburras.
While this will be his first tenure coaching the men's team, his coaching history is impeccable, leading the Hockeyroos through one of the most successful periods of any sporting team in Australian history. At the helm of the Hockeyroos from 1993-2000, his reign as coach saw the team win the 1993, 1997 and 1999 Champions Trophies, 1994 and 1998 World Cups and the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Most famously, Charlesworth took the Hockeyroos to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Olympics where the team won back to back gold medals.
A four time Olympic hockey athlete from 1972-1988 (he was also selected in the 1980 Olympic team however did not compete due to Australia's team withdrawal), his sporting career has not only been limited to hockey.
Charlesworth acted as a High Performance Consultant for the Fremantle Football Club from 2001-2002 whilst also taking on the duties as a mentor coach for the Australian Institute of Sport.
His expertise was then put to use as the High Performance Manager for the New Zealand cricket team, while recently he has been associated with the Indian Hockey Federation as the Technical Adviser.
The appointment of Charlesworth as coach of the Kookaburras has seemingly been years in the making, with the newly appointed coach admitting he has been interested in the job for several years.
'I was asked if I wanted to do the job in 2000, but I needed a break from coaching. I was thinking that in 2004 I would go back but the job wasn't available then. I've been watching the team's performance in recent time but I was doing other things and the opportunity wasn't there,' said Charlesworth.
Charlesworth said his focus will essentially be on building a new team following the many retirements which have occurred since the Beijing Olympics.
'The team changes all the time and the team which played in Beijing will never play together again. The job really is about building a new team and only a handful of the players playing now will be under 30 at the next Olympics. I think in terms of the program, there were a lot of good things that were happening. So you want to keep those things going and then you want to add and embellish those areas that need improvement. I think you can identify some of those but in the end if you want to be successful you need good players so development of individuals and building a new team, that's the critical part.'
Frank Murray's reappointment as coach of the Hockeyroos comes after he considered a senior management role within the High Performance Unit.
However after consideration, Murray's desire to coach remained strong, as he is eager to carry on the impressive form shown at the Beijing Olympics.
Despite being disappointed with the team finishing in 5th place, Murray says he believes his team played well at the tournament and is now back in the top group of countries in the world.
'We were obviously disappointed not to have made the semi finals and to miss out on goal difference is a difficult thing. 10 points gets you into the finals at any other Olympics and it didn't in this one. So to come away having lost only the one game against the gold medal winning team, but then to have nothing better than to say you finished fifth was disappointing. But it shows this group how close they are and we just need to work even harder and introduce some new ideas and new people into the group,' said Murray.
While identifying some areas of improvement needed over the next Olympic cycle, Murray says he is confident the appropriate foundations are already in place for the team to be successful at the 2012 London Olympics.
'Some of our younger players need to mature and we need to introduce even more youth into the group but also some of the other players who are actually on the periphery and didn't make it to Beijing will get better over the next couple of years so there is a fair bit of talent in that group as well. The introduction of new talent combined with a maturing playing group I believe will see us get to the stage where we can give ourselves a really good chance in London,'
Murray has already set high standards for the team over the next two years.
'I expect to have our world ranking back to three (currently ranked 5th) by the end of next year, and then I expect to have it back into the top two by the end of the 2010 World Cup.'
The National Coaching roles also encompass the AIS Head Coach positions and the AIS Director, Professor Peter Fricker, commented that both the appointments made for these national programs have been most satisfying in that international experience and expertise is being brought to the teams in an international environment of ever improving competition. The challenges are there but Hockey in Australia has the ability to match and beat the best the world has to offer.
The Hockeyroos will receive their first chance in high quality competition since the Beijing Olympics when the team plays host at the 2009 Samsung Women's Champions Trophy in Sydney from 11-19 July 2009. The Kookaburras will also be able to test their skill against the world's best teams at the 2009 ABN AMRO Men's Champions Trophy which will be held in Melbourne from 28 November 28 – 6 December 2009.
In other hockey news, Hockey Australia can also announce the appointment of a new Chief Executive - Mark Anderson.
Anderson joins Hockey Australia from the Essendon Football Club where he occupied the position of Chief Commercial Officer.
In his role as Chief Commercial Officer, Anderson's responsibilities included driving the revenue generation of the football club, attracting potential sponsors, membership, hospitality sales, branding, customer service and marketing services.
He has a strong passion for sport and was instrumental in driving the strategic planning of the Club.
Anderson's previous roles were quite varied, and include time spent as a secondary school physical education teacher, Sponsorship Campaign and Services Manager with the Cancer Council and Sensis Marketing Manager for Victoria and Tasmania.
Following this Anderson moved to the UK where he took on the role of Head of Business and Market Intelligence at the National Trust wherein he was credited with attaining record membership numbers, implementing a new CRM system, increased customer satisfaction and record sales.
Anderson will be commencing with Hockey Australia on 10 November 2008.
Source: Hockey Australia