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March 18, 2021 — The collapse of the Hockeyroos, complete?

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Late yesterday, the head coach of the embattled Australia women’s field hockey team, Paul Gaudoin, tendered his resignation and turned over the fractured team to assistant Katie Allen.

The Gaudoin departure came in the wake of a decade’s worth of complaints and allegations about a dysfunctional culture within Hockey Australia. These allegations include bullying not only by members of the coaching staff, but bullying between players. Findings of bodyshaming and homophobia were also made known in findings by an independent review panel. Some 100 people, including former players, participated in the review.

All of this has come only four months before the Hockeyroos are scheduled to step onto the pitch in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. The current Hockeyroo squad is bereft of a number of top players such as Anna Flanagan, Rachael Lynch, Georgina Morgan, and Georgie Parker.

Flanagan has been on a five-year quest to be renamed as part of the Hockeyroos squad after a DWI conviction. While a number of other players have had to go to amateur leagues in order to try to play their way back into the national side, Parker, one of the most brilliant players of her generation, has started playing Australian Rules football in a relatively new national women’s league.

Australia’s women, after a decade and a half of amazing success, has fallen on hard times in recent years, including an unheard-of sixth-place finish at the Rio Olympics. This included a 2-1 loss to the United States in pool play, and an ignominious 4-2 crashout in the semifinals against regional rival New Zealand.

It’s hard to know whether the investigation, or its 29 recommendations, will result in any kind of long-lasting change within Hockey Australia. Indeed, I don’t have much confidence that the former invincibles will be able to get into the knockout stages of the tournament after their Group B matches.

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