Australia’s foray into Hockey 5s has been beefed up with the addition of national men’s and women’s coaches, with the first Hockey 5s World Cup set for early 2024.
Alistair Park, a former under-21 Kookaburra and assistant coach with the Perth Thundersticks, has been appointed men’s coach with Keegan Popowski named to head up the women’s Hockey 5s programme.
Park said guiding an Australian team on the international stage and playing a part in building profile of the Hockey5s format is ‘an adventure’ he is excited to take on.
“Regardless of what pursuit you’re looking to be involved in, to represent your country is a massive deal so that’s a starting point of what attracted me to the role,” said Park.
“Hockey 5s is very much in its infancy and it has massive appeal in terms of highlighting all the great things about hockey – scoring goals, showing off one on one skills, and getting a good look at a format that is really evolving.”
Popowski is currently coaching manager of the Toowoomba Hockey Association. His coaching experience includes being head coach of Tasmania’s Open Women’s Indoor team as well as being involved in a coaching capacity with Tasmania’s U18 Men’s Team for four years with a three-year stint with Derwent Hockey Club’s Premier League Women’s team.
“It’s an exciting list and a good challenge and opportunity to lead a national team to success,” said Popowski.
“All the concepts we know from the 11-a-side format aren’t really the same in Hockey5s, so it makes for a lot of exciting discussions.
“I feel like I am across most of the players and we’ll have to fast track about those non negotiables such as can they stay in a contest, can they shoot on both sides because in Hockey5s with the pace of the game and being able to score from anywhere, these are important attributes to have. I’m excited to see how they go.”
A camp will see the players selected to compete at the Oceania World Cup Qualifiers being held in July. The Hockey 5s World Cup is scheduled for Oman in 2024.
The final squads of 12 selected from the camp in Warrnambool will comprise 10 field players and two goalkeepers.