Hockey Australia has secured Australian hockey great and highly credentialled international coach Mark Hager for a major player pathway position.

The former Kookaburras Olympic captain has been appointed Hockey Australia’s National Athlete Pathway Program (NAPP) Technical Lead - Women.

A highly successful player for Australia who has gone on to forge an outstanding coaching career, Hager joins current Men’s Technical Lead and fellow former Kookaburra Mark Knowles in overseeing and driving the development of Australian hockey talent and ensuring sustained success on the world scene.

Hager returns to Australia after spending the past 13 years coaching overseas, most recently as coach of Great Britain’s Women’s Team that won bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Prior to this Hager coached New Zealand’s Women’s Team to consecutive fourth placed finishes at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and masterminded the Black Sticks’ Commonwealth Games gold medal win over the Hockeyroos in 2018.

Now Hager will use his expertise to generate the Hockeyroos stars of the future and ensure sustained success at the highest level.

“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,” said Hockey Australia Acting CEO Michael Johnston.

“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.

“There are exciting times ahead for the next generation of athletes fuelled by an increased focus and support from the Australian Institute of Sport in long term athlete development and player pathways, as well as HA’s strategic prioritisation of the importance of pathways as a primary vehicle to sustained success as we head towards a home Olympics in 2032.”

Having previously been an Assistant Coach for the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras at different times, as well as tenures as Head Coach of Australia’s Under 21 Men’s and Women’s Teams, Hager returns to his homeland eager to make a positive impact.

“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.

“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.

“Being able to lead all aspects of the technical and performance standards of the National Women’s Senior Program is something I am very much looking forward to.”

Hager’s acquisition means Knowles, who was appointed Hockey Australia’s National Athlete Pathway Program (NAPP) Technical Lead at the start of this year, will focus solely on the male pathway system.

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

Hager’s appointment sees him responsible for providing technical direction to HA’s women’s pathway programs, athletes and staff.

Hager is scheduled to begin in the role in early November, with Knowles continuing in the joint role until then.

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