Hockey New Zealand is proud to announce the new Black Sticks Men's coaching team to lead the side towards the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
After an extensive search which attracted considerable overseas interest Hockey New Zealand has named New Zealander Shane McLeod as the new Black Sticks Men's Head Coach and South African Greg Nicol as Assistant Coach. McLeod's appointment follows his impressive leadership as interim Head Coach during the recent Dutch international series.
These appointments were made possible thanks to the support of Sam Kelt and the Kelt Capital Hockey Academy, New Zealand's most prominent and unique Hockey Academy.
The Kelt Capital Hockey Academy were prepared to release Shane McLeod from his 3 year contract as their head coach, once they were able to acquire the services of Greg Nicol. Nicol will therefore commence his role as Head Coach of the Kelt Capital Hockey Academy when he arrives in New Zealand in mid April.
Hockey New Zealand is extremely proud of the final outcome of this search which not only ensures a coach of McLeod's talent is retained in New Zealand but brings a coach with an international reputation like Nicol's to share his expertise within the broader New Zealand Hockey community.
Hawke's Bay based Kelt Capital Hockey Academy see Nicol as one of the top 6 hockey professionals in the world and his appointment will give their academy the impetus to move forward in expanding their programme delivering elite sporting excellence to young people throughout Hawke's Bay and New Zealand.
Hockey New Zealand CEO Ramesh Patel said: ÔÇ£Shane has understandably felt great loyalty to the Kelt Academy, and by working collaboratively with the Kelt Academy on these appointments we felt both our organisations could benefit. While the process has taken longer than initially anticipated, working together has guaranteed a smooth transition for both coaching programmes and ensures we can deliver the best coaching combination to benefit Hockey within New Zealand.ÔÇØ
McLeod also sees the arrangement as a ÔÇ£win, winÔÇØ situation for both organisations: ÔÇ£Coaching the New Zealand team is something I have always wanted to do, but it was really important to me to make sure that everything was in place when I resigned from the Academy. I needed to feel confident the support networks were in place to assist the Academy to go forward.ÔÇØ
McLeod has been the Black Sticks Assistant Coach since April 2006 and was interim Head Coach during the recent Dutch International Test Series in January this year. He returned to New Zealand in early 2006 after time in Europe as the Head Coach of the Belgian Women's National side.
He was a member of the New Zealand Men's Team (1996 - 1998) and a Gold Medalist at the World Cup Qualifying Tournament, Sardinia, in 1997.
McLeod says he is looking forward to the challenge ahead. ÔÇ£It is not going to be easy, but the potential in the team to do well is very high. I think we have a very good side,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£Qualification for Beijing is our main goal and it is important we perform well against Australia in the Oceania Olympic Qualifier for credibility and to gain information.ÔÇØ
Greg Nicol is an outstanding former international player with 200 Test Caps and 245 test goals. He was named South African Hockey Player of the Year in 1996 and 2004, and was the joint leading goal scorer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and leading goal scorer at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
In 2006 he was consultant to both England and Belgium Hockey and was the South African Men's team Specialist Coach in 2003/2004. He brings penalty corner, goal shooting and goal keeping expertise to the New Zealand programme.
Aside from several international tours over the remainder of 2007, New Zealanders will have a chance to see the Black Sticks Men perform live during the 6 nation Olympic Qualifying Tournament to take place at Crown Relocations Stadium, Albany in February 2008.
Both coaching appointments have been made through to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Source: Hockey New Zealand