One of the most successful international coaches of recent times, Shame McLeod has struck a deal with German club side Hamburger Polo Club to join their coaching set up. It seems a deal made in heaven given the German side’s rise akin to the Red Lions.
With Belgium men, the Kiwi won Euro, world and Olympic titles. After a sabbatical, he acted as assistant coach to his successor Michel van den Heuvel for the last two years with Belgium men. Now the 54-year-old, who has twice been named FIH Coach of the Year (2017/2018), will leave Belgium after eight years and will first continue his career as a consultant with the Hamburg Polo Club until the end of the league season.
McLeod said: “It gives me the opportunity to work with some excellent players as well as learning a different playing style. My hope is that I can bring some new ideas to assist the performance of the team. The club has been very welcoming and I look forward to working with Matthias Witthaus and the rest of the team.”
“He will inspire the team, the club and all hockey fans,” said HPC board member Frank Schmidt.
McLeod will mainly be active in the area of game analysis and training design. “For the team, it’s a completely different approach for a change,” said coach Matthias Witthaus, who has steered the fortunes of the Polo men almost single-handedly for eight years and has risen with the team from the Oberliga to the top League in that time.
“There have already been a couple of meetings with Shane via Zoom. That has already shown thawe will definitely benefit from the cooperation. I personally will also be able to take a few things with me there.”
The former Black Stick (1996 to 1998) already knows parts of the team well. Of the five playing for the Hamburg outfit this season, only Hugo Inglis was part of Shane McLeod’s squad at the London Olympics in 2012, but Blair Tarrant, Kane Russell, Aidan Sarikaya and Nic Woods were also part of the New Zealand talent pool back then.
McLeod will be present at the Euro Hockey League over Easter in Amsterdam. He won two national titles as coach of the Waterloo Ducks, before he took over full-time in Belgium in 2015 as the men’s national coach.