Hockey New Zealand has today shared the findings of the review of the Black Sticks women’s team environment with the players and management team, asking them to help develop an action plan that will meet their needs.
The independent review undertaken by Maria Dew QC highlighted that Hockey New Zealand’s systems had failed to enable player issues to be responded to at the time.
Hockey New Zealand Chair Mike Bignell delivered a face-to-face apology to the players and the management team in Auckland this morning.
“The failings resulted in unacceptable outcomes for some of our players and consequently the 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,” says Bignell.
“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 says that as part of the sport’s programme of continuous improvement, Hockey New Zealand accepts the review’s recommendations and is working on a range of initiatives to strengthen their high performance environment.
“While our systems clearly need strengthening, so do our relationships. Hockey New Zealand must engage better with our players and their representatives the Hockey Players’ Association, as well as providing resources and support to ensure athlete wellbeing.”
“This is a hard-working group of women, many of whom balance fulltime employment or study with the demands of training to perform at the highest level against teams that are fully professional. There’s no doubt these women are tough.”
Hockey New Zealand People and Culture Committee Chair Shane Collins says with hockey’s desire to always put people at the centre of their sport, it is vital that all parties are involved in developing the action plan.
“As recommended by the reviewer, we are taking time to reflect properly on the review and develop a plan that will ensure the players’ voices are heard.
“Consequently this collective action plan will take some weeks to complete, however we have already identified a number of immediate actions that we believe will help the team move forward positively.”
Collins says one of these actions is working on establishing a role which will have oversight of the welfare of the Black Sticks Women’s players, and will also be an additional communications channel for players.
Other actions underway include:
· The commencement of the recruitment for a new permanent Head Coach. Applications have now closed, and Hockey New Zealand is looking to make an appointment next month.
· The appointment of an experienced HR professional to advise the Board and sit on the People and Culture Committee. Their focus would be to revise the organisation’s people-related policies and develop a workplace code of conduct.
· Scheduling sessions for the players to educate them on a range of HR policies including health and safety, wellbeing, discrimination, bullying and harassment.
Both Black Sticks teams are now focused on the FIH Pro League with three more home rounds against USA (women) and Spain (men), Argentina and Australia.
Bignell says the goal for both Black Sticks teams remains to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Our commitment as a Board is to ensure that we give the players, coaches and management the best possible environment to win on the world stage.”
Mike Bignell Statement
Summary of Findings