Top coaches quit, now search is on

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - by Claire Mid­dle­ton

ENG­LAND Hockey are launch­ing a world­wide search for an as­sis­tant coach after both Karen Brown and Craig Kee­gan de­cided to quit the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Brown, who earned 355 caps as a player, has been in­volved in six Olympic cam­paigns – three on the pitch as one of the world’s best mid­field­ers, and three off it in a coach­ing ca­pac­ity – and said her de­ci­sion to step away was based on a “life­style choice”.

How­ever, she is set to re­main in­volved as a con­sul­tant in coach de­vel­op­ment and has also se­cured a men­tor­ing role with the English In­sti­tute of Sport.

Kee­gan is go­ing to head up the sport pro­grammes at the Univer­sity of Derby so he can spend more time with his young fam­ily.

With goal­keep­ing coach John Hurst also opt­ing for re­tire­ment – at least after a re­place­ment is found – head coach Danny Kerry has lost three key mem­bers of his sup­port staff, and a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence.

As a player, Brown’s tally of caps is sur­passed only by Kate Richard­son-Walsh and she won Olympic bronze at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

She said: “It will be hard to leave and I will miss the ath­letes, the staff and work­ing in that high per­for­mance en­vi­ron­ment, but in other ways it was an easy de­ci­sion to make.

“There comes a time when you don’t want to spend so much time in ho­tels and real life takes over.

“Even a nor­mal day is busy and hec­tic and you never re­ally get off the tread­mill.”

So has she been a part of the me­dia whirl that the gold-medal play­ers have been en­joy­ing?

“I’ve been on the pe­riph- ery,” she said. “And no, I haven’t had agents queu­ing to sign me up.”

She is cur­rently work­ing out her three months’ no­tice, which might yet in­clude a trip to South Africa with the new squad. David Ralph, a coach with the men’s pro­gramme, has been sec­onded to the women but may not be able to travel be­cause his wife is due to have a baby.

Kee­gan said: “My time at Eng­land Hockey has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure. To sum it up, I’ve taken the most joy from see­ing ath­letes de­velop from po­ten­tial play­ers to Olympic cham­pi­ons over the course of nine years.”

Kerry paid trib­ute to them both: “We will miss Craig’s pas­sion and fire in our pro­gramme.

“Karen’s de­par­ture will leave a big hole in a num­ber of ar­eas of our pro­gramme, her huge ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise will be dif­fi­cult to re­place.”

PIC­TURE: PA

Pastures new: Karen Brown and Craig Kee­gan, be­low, have left their roles coach­ing the GB women’s team, inset

Golden boy: Craig Kee­gan

Hold­ing the fort: Head coach Danny Kerry,

and goal­keeper coach John Hurst,

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