Black Sticks coach outlines golden ambition

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012
Colin Batch
IN CHARGE: New Black Sticks men's coach, Australian Colin Batch.

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New coach Colin Batch boldly states his ambition to take the national men's hockey team to Olympic gold after their disappointment of finishing third-last at London 2012.

He also hopes "to receive something similar" to the million-dollar funding granted to the previous regime during an Olympic year.

Batch admits the situation in which he inherits the men's team is "very similar" to that of Australian counterpart Mark Hager when he took over the women's Black Sticks in the last Olympic cycle.

Hager was appointed in 2009, off the back of a terrible Olympic campaign, with high-performance funding slashed by $350,000 as a result.

Batch, who was unveiled yesterday as Shane McLeod's successor, says he has taken the job without "an exact figure" of what to expect when High Performance Sport New Zealand releases its funding for next year.

When asked whether he had been given any indication of funding for next year, the Australian said: "No, not yet. We're reliant on the Government funding. I haven't got an exact figure on it yet but it's something that will be discussed with the New Zealand federation.

"I'm hoping that it will be something similar to what it has been over the previous few years," he said.

In the past four years, Hockey NZ has received $7.14 million in public funding for its elite men's and women's teams.

Of last year's $2.95m awarded to elite hockey, $1.28m went to the men's team.

The women's team, who lost a bronze medal match at London 2012, received $1.47m after Hager rebuilt the side and guided the players to Champions Trophy bronze last year.

Despite not knowing the resources available to him, Batch said his ambition was Olympic gold and he intended to talk to Hager in an attempt to understand his success with the women's team.

"I think it's very similar, I know the women didn't perform so well in Beijing and Mark's improved the programme enormously," he said.

"They finished fourth at London and that's what I'd be eager to talk to him about, how he did that in a short time.

"I think we'll be looking at some of the lessons learnt in that programme and tuning up a few more structures around the men's programme."

Batch also points to a need for New Zealand's talent pool to be deepened - something that will be difficult to achieve if funding is tightened.

"A lot of people talk about performance all the time, but for me it's about making sure we have a broader group of players who can play at international level," he said.

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"You can't have a successful Olympics in Rio if you don't develop players along the way. If you have a narrow squad of 16, 17 or 18 players, by the time you get to Rio it won't be enough."

- The Dominion Post

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