Women’s Black Sticks coach Mark Hager has resigned as coach of the national side to take up a role as head coach of the Great Britain and England women’s teams.
Hager, has led the Black Sticks through their most successful period during his 10 years at the helm.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach the Black Sticks for a decade and even more fortunate to have two world-class players in Kayla Sharland and Stacey Michelsen as my captains to help us achieve goals that were firsts for this team,” said Hager.
“But given its profile as one of the pinnacle coaching roles in world hockey I have come to realise it is in my best interests and those of the Black Sticks to accept this opportunity, and for someone else to lead this talented group of athletes through to Tokyo.
“Ultimately, the opportunity to coach England/Great Britain is one that excites me with the quality of the teams, the wealth of competition on their doorstep in Europe and the resources available.”
Hager had many successes as coach of New Zealand, taking them as high as fourth in the world rankings, winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and finishing fourth at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 – the team’s best-ever finishes at Olympic Games.
Hockey New Zealand Acting Board Chair Shane Collins said that Hager was leaving on his own terms.
“We are extremely disappointed to lose one of the world’s top coaches. Mark and his coaching staff have continued to have the support of the Board and management and we wish him well in his next endeavour. His legacy will take some matching.”