Top coaches quit, now search is on
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.”
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,