Elected as the Athletes Representative and new member of the FIH Executive Board, Mercedes Coghen was the captain Spain’s team which unexpectedly captured the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
She played 165 international, scoring “not many goals” as an industrious midfielder. She was, says Jose Brassa who coached her “the kind of player every team needs. She did all the work no other player likes to do and did it without you noticing her.” She spent her entire career at Club de Campo.
Fluent in three languages (Spanish, French and English) she also speaks Italian (“but not like an Italian!”) and a bit of German. Aged 42 she lives in Madrid with her husband and two daughters aged 11 and 8, who are also aspiring hockey players.
She keeps busy working in a small company and does a lot of work in sport including with the women’s sport foundation, Madrid’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and will probably be president of the Organising Committee for the women’s 2006 World Cup in Madrid. She made a name for herself as president of the Organising Committee at the 2004 men’s Olympic Qualifier dealing calmly and competently with the aftermath of the terrorist bombings and all the other aspects associated with the job. When she does take time off to relax she enjoys playing in Club de Campo’s veteran table tennis team and plays golf in the summer.
Coghen has always enjoyed a good relationship with FIH president Els van Breda Vriesman and after taking a well earned break from the game when she retired she was happy to return to the game. She said:”At the Congress in Leipzig I met up with a lot of old friends and realised how much I would enjoy the job. Of course I’m slightly anxious but I will be contacting my predecessor, Sean Kerly, and asking him for advice.
“I’ve realised now that when you’re playing you maintain such a narrow focus – it’s all about staying in the hotel, training and going to the pitch. You’re just not aware of everything else going on – it’s very narrow. I’m also aware that hockey isn’t professional, well not in the sense of football for example, and once retired players get on with other things and that’s the last you hear of them. But I’m hoping to get a closer relationship between players and officials. One thing I would like to achieve is to get players represented on their individual national governing body boards. That would be a big achievement. But for now I’ll be starting slowly and seeing what happens.”
A FEW THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MERECEDES……
Players she most respected during her career:
Britta Becker (Germany), Rechelle Hawkes (Australia) and Lisanne Lejeune (Holland). “Actually there are lots more because Spain was always relatively weak when I played and everyone seemed so good!”
Country she most enjoyed touring:
“Australia because they all understand hockey there and the crowds were always good. India was also a great experience and we had a great adventure playing in Lithuania once. We had expected to be playing Russia but instead went to the real unknown – Lithuania. We travelled 1000km in a dreadful old bus and when we got there it was an old black pitch. Cuba was also a fantastic experience – we all came away feeling very grateful about how much we all had in comparison.”
Mostly Spanish although I have eaten an awful lot of spaghetti in my time! Gazpacho (the Spanish style soup), bread with tomato and Spanish ham and tortilla.”
What do you never leave home without?:
My husband always says I have too much luggage! But I always take the eye shields you get on aeroplanes.
The first four books in the series “ Earth’s Children” by Jean Auel, or any historical novels.
What quality do you most respect in people?
Loyalty, honesty and generosity.
Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi and Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam.
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