New Zealand: Blacksticks Coach to Return Home

Graham Shaw, Vantage Black Sticks Women head coach has decided to return to his homeland of Ireland ending a three-year tenure with the team.

Graham Shaw and Katie Doar during the Pro League Hockey match between the Blacksticks women and Argentina, Nga Punawai, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday 28 February 2020. Photo: WORLDSPORTPICS.COM/Simon Watts

Shaw took up the VBSW role in 2019 bringing his young family to New Zealand from Ireland.

“It’s been a huge honour to guide this team through what has been the most challenging of times for any high-performance team and I’m proud of how we’ve managed those challenges” said Shaw.

“We’ve loved living in New Zealand, but no-one could have predicted a pandemic back then, let alone how tough it would be to maintain a programme and prepare for events like the Olympics with lockdowns and huge restrictions.

“It’s been a difficult call to make with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup ahead of us this year, but I have had to weigh up what’s best for our family after being away from home and unable to visit our wider family for so long.

Graham Shaw during the Trans Tasman Hockey match between the New Zealand Blacksticks Women and the Australian Hockeyroos, Massey University Hockey Turf, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Sunday 30 May 2021 Photo: COPYRIGHT WORLDSPORTPICS Simon Watts

“It was hard to see myself in the role beyond 2022 especially with the pull of family back in Ireland. Therefore, I thought that it’s important to step away now and let the group set itself for the long term. We’ve assembled a high calibre coaching group around the programme and I know I leave them in good hands”

Darren Smith, General Manager – High Performance, paid tribute to Shaw’s significant contribution to the VBSW programme.

“We have been privileged to have a coach of Graham’s quality lead the programme through what have been unprecedented times. We were looking forward to seeing the group continue to build under Graham’s guidance, however, the difficulties Covid has presented for those living away from home cannot be underestimated and so we understand Graham’s decision to return to Ireland.”

“Graham is an excellent coach and I know that he will succeed at whatever he does next. He leaves New Zealand with our immense gratitude for the work he has done.”

Smith said the VBSW was in good hands with the new enlarged group of assistant coaches now in place and decisions about a new head coach would be made shortly.

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