An independent panel has upheld appeals lodged by two former Hockeyroos players over their non-selection in the Tokyo Olympic squad, but it is not yet clear whether the players will be able to join next week’s crucial training camp in Darwin.
Former Hockeyroos captain Georgie Morgan and current international goalkeeper of the year Rachael Lynch were cut from the Olympic squad last year.
What followed was a boilover into the public square of private divisions within the women’s high-performance camp going back years.
Hockey Australia commissioned an independent review that described the culture in the group as “dysfunctional”.
— Hockey Australia (@HockeyAustralia) April 15, 2021
On the eve of the 29 recommendations being made public, Hockeyroos head coach and member of the selection panel Paul Gaudoin resigned.
The two other members of the selection panel, assistant coach Steph Andrews and independent selector Sharon Buchanan, had previously resigned their positions.
Hockey Australia said in a statement, it “accepts the decision of the tribunal and will now move to provide both players with an opportunity to be considered under a new selection panel”.
ANNOUNCEMENT | Our coaching group for #Tokyo2020 has been finalised with Jeremy Davy appointed as National Women’s Assistant Coach.
— Hockeyroos (@Hockeyroos) April 14, 2021
Neither the Hockey Australia CEO, Matt Favier, nor a spokesperson were available to answer questions regarding the selection panel’s likelihood of convening in the coming days to determine whether Morgan and Lynch could join the upcoming training camp.
The national governing body instead issued a media release with pre-recorded comments from new head coach Katrina Powell, who has been in the role for only 15 days.
“The actual decision about the players being reinstated will be taken by a formal sitting of the selection panel,” she said.
“They will be provided the opportunity to play for selection as are other athletes.
“I took over coaching the team just two weeks ago and I’ve been really impressed with the talent and the dedication of the players involved and the task for me is still to make sure that the athletes are united and are looking towards success in Tokyo.
“I am so passionate about the Hockeyroos and wanting this team to do really well.
“There’s some amazing talent in the Hockeyroos and my job is to create an environment where the athletes that are selected in the squad can excel and vie for Olympic selection.”
Powell is familiar with both the Hockeyroos now seeking to rejoin the squad, although it is believed she was advised not to communicate with them during the appeal process.
The appeals lodged by Morgan and Lynch are said to have been successful, although each on different grounds.
Hockey Australia’s selection policy states athletes can appeal non-selection or de-selection on the following grounds:
- That the HA Selection Policy was not properly followed and/or implemented
- The appellant was not afforded a reasonable opportunity by HA to satisfy this Selection Policy
- The selection decision was affected by actual bias, or
- There was no material on which the selection decision could reasonably be based.
Having waited 130 days for the decision from the appeal tribunal, the expectation is any further delay in the process would be grossly unfair to the players involved.
Likewise, it is fair to assume Hockey Australia cannot afford any further negative press with the Olympic Games only 14 weeks away.