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Kookaburra Legends add weight to Stingers Resurgence

Published Wed 17 Apr 2024

Hockey Northern Territory (HNT) is excited to announce key coaching appointments for the Territory Stingers for this year’s ‘Festival of Hockey’. Kieran Govers and Michelle Caden have been appointed as the Head Coaches for the Men’s and Women’s teams, respectively, for the event scheduled for Friday 20th and Sunday 22nd of September at the MWT Hockey Centre in Darwin.

Kieran Govers, stepping into the role of Head Coach for the Men’s team, boasts a distinguished career with the Kookaburras, Australia's National Men’s team, with recent involvements coaching the Malaysian men’s senior team and his leadership role last season with the Adelaide Fire highlighting a shift into High Performance Coaching. Kieran needs no introduction in world hockey, as an Olympic bronze medallist, World Cup gold medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist he is as big a name as they come.

Michelle Caden will take charge of the Women’s team, her storied career as one of the great players in the Territory Pearls history and her role as Hockey NT's Technical Director have equipped her with a strong understanding of the challenges facing Territory athletes and teams. Her strong relationship and culture building skills, make her an ideal leader for the women's side.

Adding to the strategic depth of the coaching staff, Jason Butcher will step down from the Stingers Men’s Head Coaching role after guiding the teams rebuild over the last two years to concentrate his focus on his HNT CEO role, he will however continue in a mentor and support role with Kieran and the team. Having previously coached the Stingers Men's and Women's teams across three different decades and with his recent experience coaching the Adelaide Fire in the Hockey One League he will continue to add valuable experience to the Stingers’ preparations and ongoing development.

The coaching roster is further enriched by the involvement of Mark Hager, who will assist the Women's team with his vast international coaching experience. Mark's current position as Hockey Australia's Women’s Pathway Manager adds another layer of expertise to the Stingers' coaching arsenal. In international hockey Mark needs no introduction, as one of the all-time great Kookaburras, and for his successful tenure as the Blacksticks and Great Britain Women’s Head Coach, he has proven to be one of the greats of International Hockey over the last few decades.

HNT Director and ‘Pathway Advisory Panel’ Chair – Chantrelle Carey said “our priority is to invest in the development of our people and therefore to build local capacity, these appointments are going to have a powerful impact on our community. They also highlight the relationship hockey in this country has with the Stingers, the understanding of our importance to the National program and also hockey’s national identity. Kieran and Mark both have an intimate understanding of this, and we are not only excited about what they will bring to the Stingers program, but we are also resolute about the importance of the Northern Territory resurgence to hockey in this country.”

HNT is also preparing to make additional off-field team appointments in the coming weeks to further support the teams' preparations for the Festival of Hockey. With the Territory Premier League now in full swing, and other state leagues also underway, selectors will be closely monitoring Stingers squad members across the country. A preliminary squad is expected to be announced by the end of May, with updates leading into full preparations for the September games.

The announcement of this year's Festival opponents is still pending, following a competitive series against the 2023 Hockey One League Champions, the Brisbane Blaze, last year. This decision will align with pending decisions and announcements regarding the Stingers' ambitions around their involvement in the 2025 Hockey One League.

With the leadership of their new coaching team and upcoming team staffing appointments, the Territory Stingers are well-positioned for a strong showing at this year’s Festival of Hockey. With an eye to continue to expose their young talent to this level of hockey as much as they can, whilst they continue to build their program capacity, the Stingers resurgence continues to build momentum.