They should be getting preparations in order for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Instead, the Hockeyroos, Australia’s national women’s team, find themselves caught up in turmoil that is disrupting the squad and gripping the team in uncertainty and controversy.
Both former players and staff insist that Hockey Australia did nothing to alter an environment dominated by bullying and plagued by mismanagement that destroyed team culture and has been in existence within the program since 2017.
Australia are a top women’s side that would certainly see action in the Olympic field hockey odds at online betting sites. The Hockeyroos have won three Olympic gold medals, most recently at the 2000 Sydney Games. At Rio in 2016, the Aussies lost to New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the knockout stage of the tournament and ended up finishing sixth overall. Currently, the Hockeyroos are ranked No. 4 in the world.
With the COVID-19 delayed Olympiad set for this summer in Japan, instead of laser focus on peaking at the right time for the competition, the Hockeyroos find themselves dealing with the sudden retirements of key players and the looming threat of a players’ strike.
Top Players Dropped
All of the captains of the Hockeyroos side recently relinquished those duties. Jodie Kenny announced her retirement, while Georgina Morgan and Emily Chalker opted to resign from the captaincy. According to sources close to the team, the players took this decision due to issues they were encountering while working with those in non-playing leadership roles for the team.
Morgan and International Hockey Federation goalkeeper of the year Rachel Lynch were both surprisingly dropped from the squad.
In 2018, the entire 25-player roster of the Hockeyroos signed a letter that was then sent to Hockey Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald recently obtained a copy of the letter.
“As a playing group, we have a number of concerns, which has led to us losing confidence in the ability of the coaching staff and administration to make decisions that promote a culture of excellence and result in future and continued success,” the letter read.
Among the issues cited by the team’s correspondence with the sport’s governing body in the country were a disconnect between management and players, a lack of understanding and respect for the point of view of the players, the unwillingness of those in administrative roles to address the concerns of the players, and unusually high turnover in both team staff and playing personnel on the squad.
Hockey Australia promised to deal with these issues following the conclusion of the 2018 Women’s World Cup in England, a tournament in which the Hockeyroos finished fourth. However, the players insist that no action was taken as promised.
“The board said they would do all these things but a lot of it never came to fruition,” former player Madi Ratcliffe told fieldhockey.com. “A lot of it got kicked down the road, or players were blamed, or it was pushed under the rug.”
Kathryn Slattery, a 2016 Olympian, saw similar circumstances at work.
“Ultimately I felt like it [the letter] was dismissed,” Slattery said. “It was unprecedented sending that letter and I was shocked nothing changed.”
It wasn’t only players who saw this as a serious situation in need of addressing. Two-time Olympian Nicole Arrold, also a former assistant coach, is of the opinion that the team was disorganized due to lacking leadership among its management team.
“The fact that we are planning for training the day before, or on the day of the session, offers further evidence that there is no longer-term plan,” Arrold said. “I believe we are losing support and faith of players.”
Investigation To Be Launched
Hockey Australia chief executive officer Matt Favier announced that an investigation into these concerns would take place. It’s expected to begin next week.
“Hockey Australia will launch an independent inquiry into claims and comments that have been made by past players towards the program, as well as provide an opportunity for current players to share their experience,” Favier said. “The scope of this inquiry will seek to address the claims against the organization’s culture.”
At the same time, Favier offered his public support for Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin and high-performance director Toni Cumpston.
“Paul is still absolutely backed and supported by the leadership team and the board,” Favier told AAP. “And Toni is probably one of the best performing high-performance directors the sport has ever had. She is tough but fair.”