25 Feb 2019

Black Sticks had 'serious concerns' about team environment

3:26 pm on 25 February 2019

More than half of the players interviewed for the review about the New Zealand women's hockey team had serious concerns about the environment.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The review, commissioned by Hockey New Zealand (HNZ) and conducted by Auckland-based employment lawyer Maria Dew, was conducted after allegations of a negative team culture surfaced following the side's performance at last year's world cup.

Those allegations came in the wake of then Black Sticks head coach Mark Hager accidentally sending an email to the entire team naming and shaming individual players for their performance and fitness after the tournament.

Ms Dew interviewed 65 people for the review, 33 of those being past and present players and 24 of those players reported serious concerns about the environment in the last two years and longer.

The interviews were all confidential to allow participants to speak openly about their experiences.

The review found a small number of players informally reported concerns about the environment with HNZ for several years, but particularly after the Rio Olympics.

Despite the concerns, the review found HNZ didn't receive an official complaint about bullying or harassment from anyone within the Black Sticks set up.

The review also found while HNZ had policies and guidelines on player welfare, there wasn't enough education or guidelines for players to assist them in identifying bullying, harassment or unprofessional behaviour.

It also said the Hockey Players Association didn't have enough policies or education in place for its players.

Hockey New Zealand Chair Mike Bignell delivered a face-to-face apology to the players and management team this morning.

He acknowledged that the organisation had failed to enable player issues to be responded to at the time.

"The failings resulted in unacceptable outcomes for some of our players and consequently broader management team.

"It should never have got to this point and Hockey New Zealand unequivocally apologises to all those who have had a poor experience in the environment.

"We're sorry we did not have the right support in place to ensure legitimate concerns were investigated.

"We welcome the opportunity to meet confidentially with anyone who believes their concerns are not being addressed,' Bignell said.

Mark Hager resigned from his job at the start of the year] and now coaches the Great Britain women's hockey team.

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