After taking over the Head Coaching duties for the first 11 matches of the FIH Pro League where the Black Sticks have maintained their position as one of the top six nations in world hockey, Interim Head Coach Sean Dancer has decided to take on a new opportunity as the Head Coach of the Ireland Women’s National Team.
Dancer has had a long involvement with hockey in New Zealand having been involved in the Black Sticks Women’s and Men’s national teams dating back to 2009. Since 2013 he has been the Assistant Coach for the Vantage Black Sticks Women. During this period the team has enjoyed unprecedented success having maintained their world ranking and never dropping outside 6thin the world. Sean was also the Assistant Coach in 2018 where the New Zealand Hockey Women claimed their first Gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Dancer said of his opportunity to take the reins of the Black Sticks Women in the early stages of the FIH Pro League “The competition is an exciting opportunity for our sport and having the chance to lead and develop the NZ team over this period, has certainly been a challenging and rewarding experience. I am grateful and proud of our team’s progress and achievements to date”.
Sean reflected on his time “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Hockey NZ, over the last 10 years. Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with and learn from some of the world’s best coaches in Mark Hager and Shane McLeod”.
Hockey New Zealand’s High Performance Director, Paul MacKinnon, said “Sean’s input, initiatives and contribution to the Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Team and programme overall has been outstanding, from 2013 to 2018 as Assistant Coach where the achievements have included Commonwealth Games Gold and Bronze Medals, World League Silver and Bronze Medals and a 4thplace at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In 2019 Sean has taken on the Interim Head Coach role since early January with the high level of commitment, energy and leadership that this has required, to guide the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition, which he has achieved seamlessly. Prior to this Sean was Assistant Coach to the Vantage Black Sticks Men’s programme from 2009 to 2012. His level of coaching knowledge, expertise and contribution to the National Women’s programme will be missed by all, however, the exciting opportunity of the Head Coach role for the Irish Women’s Team in front of Sean, is one that we congratulate him on and wish him all the very best for.”
Dancer commented “I would like to thank the players for all their efforts, Hockey New Zealand for the opportunities, the staff for their hard work and my family and friends for all their support, that has made this last 10 years an unforgettable period of my coaching career and life.
To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time. I am grateful to Irish Hockey and look forward to the opportunity to continue and add to the team’s world class performances over the last 12 months”.