The Hockey World Cup is over for another four years and, like all sporting cycles, its ending means saying goodbye to some of the people who have lit up the international stage in recent years. We take a quick look at three greats of the game.
Australia men's head coach, Ric Charlesworth is the first coach to call it a day after The Hague, and really the Kookaburra’s coach couldn’t have left at a higher point in his long and illustrious career.
Although the Kookaburra’s always knew they would be losing Charleworth’s services this year, they had expected it to be after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. However, staying true to his habit of doing or saying the unexpected, the Australian head coach has announced that he will be stepping down from the role as his team board the plane bound for Scotland.
Explaining his decision, Charlesworth said: “The World Cup final is the best full stop I could wish for in my coaching career. I believe it would be indulgent for me to go to the Commonwealth Games.
“I have thought about it a lot. The high point of my year was the World Cup. The team will be moving on and it’s my personal decision - I don’t want to be packing up and away for another three weeks.”
Among his achievements, Charlesworth has led the Australian women’s hockey team, the Hockeyroos, to two Olympic Gold medals (1996 and 2000) and the men’s team to World Cup gold twice – in 2010 and this year’s 6-1 triumph over the Netherlands.
He also spent time coaching the India men’s and women’s national team and has written three books on sports coaching.
Citing his reason for retirement, Charlesworth said: “I have grandchildren, children and a very patient wife. Now I need to make time for my family, and spending at least three months a year away from home at hockey competitions is not the way to do that.”
When Pietie Coetzee got the call up to represent her country at this year's Hockey World Cup it was both a surprise and an honour, but one the 36-year-old readily admits she wasn’t ready for. “I had discussed things with my coach in February and we both thought I would target the Commonwealth Games.”
A last minute injury to Lenise Marais, meant that Coetzee’s re-emergence in the national team was hastened forward and suddenly her steady preparations for Glasgow were speeded up for The Hague.
What the crowds saw at The Hague was a player who wasn’t at her sharpest or fittest, but who still had the heart and the ability to make a difference to her team. “I know that my role in this competition will be different,” said Coetzee on the eve of South Africa’s opening game against the reigning champions, Argentina. And she wasn’t exaggerating. The world’s leading goal scorer played that game, and all subsequent games, as right defence. And while there were time when she tackled like the forward she is, she also distributed the ball with imagination and creativity that comes from years of making scoring opportunities. The fact she scored in her last game for the national team was the ending to a great career that everyone wanted.
Coetzee announced her retirement from the game after South Africa’s last match, a win over Japan and a game in which she scored her 282nd goal. “I intend to take a complete break for two weeks and then I will see what I do next,” she said. And that means no appearance for the South African legend at Glasgow, not even if she gets a last minute phone call.
This was Lisa Roach's last World Cup as she has now reached the age where, as the forthright Australian says: "I am just seen as too old right now." Her international umpiring career began in 2000 and Lisa, who has umpired at every level of the game, reached the pinnacle of the umpiring ladder when she umpired the 2010 women’s World Cup Final in Argentina and the gold medal match at the 2012 London Olympics. “I can’t describe the pride and honour I felt being appointed to both of those games, they were two very special highlights of my career.”
These are only two of the highlights in an international career that includes two Olympic Games, two World Cups, six Champions Trophies and a host of other world-class events. She earned her golden whistle in 2011, one of only four Australian umpires to do so.
For her, the World Cup in The Hague had an added poignancy as she was umpiring with Maio Lin when the Chinese umpire received the golden whistle for her 100th international match. After the match a clearly emotional Lisa said: “This has been a really special tournament for me, and to umpire my last World Cup game with someone who has not only been my umpiring colleague for so long, but who is also a really close friend, has made it all even more special. We have had a few tears today.”
Many players, who had not seen the sentimental side of Lisa, may have been surprised at the tears but, as the umpire explained: “The umpires become a team themselves at tournaments like this. I have travelled all over the world with hockey and made some great life-long friends. There is a real, close bond between us.”
Talking about her role, Lisa said: “I have always prided myself on being fair, honest, consistent and respectful. I always try to understand what players are trying to do on the pitch and work with my colleague to get the best from the game. I also try to take the emotion out of what I am doing on the pitch. I think most players would call me a players’ umpire with empathy towards the players.”
And it is not just the players who appreciate Lisa’s calm approach. Kylie Seymour is an upcoming international umpire from Australia: “Among others, I have Lisa Roach to thank for her continuous patience, support, guidance and expertise.” And an anonymous umpiring colleague wrote: “I’m a big fan of Lisa’s. I watch her a lot and really like her style. We’re often told that the way to develop your style is to fins someone high up that looks a little like you and then try to emulate certain things - posture, build – well I’m no tall Aussie, but I hope I umpire with even a small amount of her no-nonsense, concise and strong presentation. I’d be so pleased if I was that confident and calm.”
Lisa is not quite done with international hockey yet, she will be blowing the whistle at the Champions Trophy in Argentina later this year and plans to go on umpiring and umpire-training for many years to come.
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