Mark Hager talks tactics with the New Zealand Black Sticks.
Mark Hager talks tactics with the New Zealand Black Sticks. Rodrigo Jaramillo

A hockey journey across the world

AT THE age of 53, the former Olympian now coaches the New Zealand woman's hockey team, the Black Sticks, who compete on the world stage.

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Today, he calls Auckland home and while he hasn't been back here for a few years, he is eager to return in the future.

"I have no family left in Maryborough as they are either all in Brisbane or, in the case of my family, all live in Auckland," Hager said.

"I have three daughters, Keely, 19, who is studying to be a nurse, Teegan, 21, who is in her first year as an electrician and Shannon, 24, who is a stay at home Mum.

"Shannon has provided us with two grandsons, Jaaziah, 3, and Elijah, four months.

"I do have a wish to return (to Maryborough) at some stage to look around and see where it all began."

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Hager has competed at three Olympic Games.

In 1988 he went to Seoul where the Kookaburras were fourth.

In 1992 it was Barcelona, where unfortunately he was ruled out due to a stress fracture in his right foot.

In 1996 he took home a bronze medal from the Atlanta Games.

He retired that year and opted to coach as it was something he had always enjoyed at club level.

 

Argentina, Buenos Aires - 24/2/18  Test Matches New Zealand - ArgentinaMUNI, Club Ciudad de Buenos AiresCopyrigth: Worldsportpics, Rodrigo JaramilloMatch ID: M3Photo:
Test Matches New Zealand - ArgentinaMUNI, Club Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Rodrigo Jaramillo

"In 2009 I was no longer required as a coach for Australia and had to look elsewhere if I wanted to stay involved at the highest level," Hager said.

"Having been through the Australian system as an assistant coach for a number of years I was keen to oversee a national program.

"Hockey Australia didn't see me in that role for either the Hockeyroos or Kookaburras in 2008 so I applied for the position of national head coach for the Black Sticks.

"I am so grateful to Hockey New Zealand for providing me with such a privileged role within their program."

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While he cherishes his days an Australian player, Hager admits he has moved on and his passion now lies with the Black Sticks becoming a team that is admired on the world stage.

"I have such strong feelings and connections now for the Black Sticks after being here for nine years.

"They are committed to being as good as they can be, as I am as a coach.

"This is a team I am very proud of and one that I can't thank enough for giving me an opportunity to oversee."

The team is in a transitioning phase since the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"We are in the final preparations leading into Commonwealth Games and feel we are moving in the right direction," Hager said.

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