Kookaburras jersey detail sparks uproar ahead of Australia's Olympic Games campaign

Critics say the brutal reality for the Aussie men's hockey team is 'wrong on so many levels'.

Aussie sporting fans have hit out after Kookaburras star Andrew Charter exposed a glaring detail in the jerseys of the men's national hockey team. Pic: Getty/LinkedIn
Aussie sporting fans have hit out after Kookaburras star Andrew Charter exposed a glaring detail in the jerseys of the men's national hockey team. Pic: Getty/LinkedIn

Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter has shone the spotlight on a sad situation for the Australian men's hockey team, who head into this year's Olympic Games in Paris without a major sponsor. The Kookaburras are one of Australia's most beloved and successful sporting teams on the international stage, and claimed the silver medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

The Aussie men's hockey side won gold the following year at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and have one gold, four silver and five bronze medals since they first competed at the Olympics in 1956. The Kookaburras' gold medal match at the Tokyo Games was one of the nation's most watched events at the last Olympics and the sustained success of the team over a long period is a remarkable feat.

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Incredibly though, the Kookaburras head into the Paris Games - which gets underway in less than six months - without a major commercial partner. Taking to LinkedIn to share the eye-opening sponsorship situation with the Aussie sporting public, Charter described it as a "sad day" for the sport and launched an impassioned plea for sponsors to get on board and support the men's hockey team.

“Today is a sad day for my sport,” Charter posted on LinkedIn, in a message shared by iconic Aussie newsreader, Sandra Sully. “For the first time in my 14 year career I was presented with my playing jersey lacking a major front of shirt sponsor.

“That’s right the Kookaburras, one of Australia’s most iconic sporting teams, are not able to find a major corporate sponsor 7 months out from the Paris Olympics even after securing a silver in Tokyo, an agreement for all matches to be shown on 7+ leading into the event, a lack of scandal or controversy and a commitment from the WA government to provide training facilities for the next decade.

“While it may not be the Kookaburras of 2024 who feel this impact immediately, it will in the future and ultimately our sport as a whole if it stays this way. If there are any corporations out there looking to support an Australian Team made up of engineers, accountants, electricians, physios and more... I reckon it’s good real estate.”

Pictured on the left is Aussie newsreader Sandra Sully.
Sandra Sully shared Andrew Charter's Australian hockey post about the Kookaburras sponsorship situation. Pic: Getty

Kookaburras dilemma sparks backlash from Aussie fans

Sully vacated her position on the board of Hockey Australia last year, however the sport is clearly still close to the heart of the Network 10 icon and veteran newsreader. After sharing Charter's impassioned plea for sponsorship to her numerous followers on social media, the TV presenter was inundated with messages from concerned and outraged Aussie sporting fans.

One user responded: “This is shameful. What is the motivation for the sponsors? We need a marketing campaign to get them a sponsor”. Sport journalist Adam Clifford wrote: “The men’s gold medal game was the most watched event at the Tokyo Olympics, outside of athletics. Crazy situation”. ABC reporter Lucy Cooper added: “Australian hockey has always performed consistently and in an outstanding manner on the world stage ... this is wrong on so many levels”.

Seen here, Australian men's hockey star Andrew Charter at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Andrew Charter's message about the men's national hockey team resonated with Australian sporting fans. Pic: Getty

Hockey Australia in midst of tumultuous period

The sad reality for the Kookaburras comes after a brutal blow for Hockey Australia and the women's national team, the Hockeyroos, who saw their funding slashed after a quarter-final elimination at the Tokyo Games. The Hockeyroos have not won a medal at the Olympics since clinching their third gold at the Sydney 2000 Games, with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) cutting their funding to the national side by almost 50%.

The AIS made the brutal decision after lowering its expectations for the women's team heading into the Paris Games. It marked the latest tumultuous chapter in recent years for the Hockeyroos, following an independent review launched in 2020 after allegations of “a toxic culture and bullying" within the women's national program.

Hockey Australia did receive one of the biggest investments in Olympic sports history in 2022 when the Western Australian government committed more than $135 million to a new world-leading facility and player wellbeing. The WA government beat out a number of bids from other states to host the sport’s high-performance centre of excellence from 2025-2035. The facility is set to benefit the wider hockey community as well as the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras.

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