Hockeyroos coach in shock resignation amid 'distressing' allegations

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Paul Gaudoin, pictured here addressing his players during the Hockeyroos' clash with China in 2019.
Paul Gaudoin addresses his players during the Hockeyroos' clash with China in 2019. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The Hockeyroos have been rocked by the resignation of coach Paul Gaudoin just four months out from the Tokyo Olympics.

Hockey Australia made the shock announcement on Wednesday night, saying Gaudoin had tendered his resignation following the internal release of findings and recommendations of an independent review.

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The review was launched last year in the wake of explosive allegations of bullying, body-shaming and homophobic behaviour within the Hockeyroos' set-up.

The shocking claims threw the elite women's hockey program into chaos and have now seen Gaudoin quit his post.

"Whilst I am disappointed to not see out the Olympic program to Tokyo, I am proud to have helped get the Hockeyroos to be ranked second in the world," Gaudoin said in a statement.

"I wish both teams every success in Tokyo.

"It is time to focus on my family and begin a new chapter of my life. I love our game and hope it stays relevant in a competitive sporting environment."

Hockey Australia has decided against releasing the report publicly, instead distributing a statement detailing its response to the review, as well as the 29 recommendations from Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport.

Paul Gaudoin, pictured here during a Hockeyroos match against Great Britain in 2019.
Paul Gaudoin looks on during a Hockeyroos match against Great Britain in 2019. (Photo by Daniel Carson/Getty Images)

Paul Gaudoin latest Hockeyroos figure to exit

Assistant coach Katie Allen will assume the interim head coach role, with HA intending to announce a replacement shortly.

Gaudoin's exit follows that of high performance manager Toni Cumpston, who quit in January after stating she had lost the support of the HA board.

Current and former players didn't like Cumpston's abrasive approach and her exit immediately saw the blowtorch shift to Gaudoin.

Assistant coach Steph Andrews and selector Sharon Buchanan were the next out the door.

Gaudoin took over as coach at the end of 2016, but he was criticised last year for missing a series of meetings with players.

His decision to axe stars Rachael Lynch and Georgia Morgan from the 2021 contract list caused a huge storm, with a chunk of the player group even threatening to strike over the shock omissions.

Fractures within the player group also emerged in the fallout, with the Hockeyroos now left with little time to mend relationships ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Players within the Hockeyroos set-up had been fearful of speaking up publicly in recent years in the fear they will be cut from the side.

In response to this, HA set up a system where disgruntled players could vent their grievances to Sports Integrity Australia.

HA said the independent review had been "confronting and distressing".

"Broadly the review found a dysfunctional culture within the National Women's High Performance Program that is not conducive to athlete wellbeing or sustained on-field success, and identified numerous areas for improvement," HA said.

"While we have made a considerable investment over the last three years, including efforts to implement changes since the Rio cycle, this has not been enough to prevent rupturing of the squad's cohesion, particularly with the uncertainty rendered by COVID-19 and the delay of the Tokyo Olympics.

"The process of this review has seen us all reflect seriously over the past months about what we could do better.

"The findings have been shared with the players and we will work with them to make changes to design and implement a cultural transformation program."

Some of the review panel's recommendations

  • The need to ensure an effective leadership model is implemented across all aspects of the high-performance program, including coaching, support staff and across the playing group.

  • Striking an improved balance with the demands of the high-performance program and life outside of hockey.

  • Ensuring engagement at every level from the board, senior management, coaches, support staff and players is safe and respectful.

  • Improvements in a range of governance areas to ensure greater oversight and the tracking of culture of both men's and women's programs.

  • Embedding a culture of mutual respect and trust between all participants in the delivery of the high performance program.

with AAP

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