Wednesday March 28, 2018
From Waverley H.C to hockey’s world no.1
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch recalls where it all began ahead of first Commonwealth Games in top job
Waverley Hockey Club life member and coach of the Australian men’s hockey team Colin Batch knows the Kookaburras will be playing with a target on their back at next week’s Commonwealth Games.
“The squad is aware that since hockey was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, Australia has won every men’s Commonwealth Games tournament,” Batch said today.
“It is a proud record, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. We are focused on playing well and performing in this tournament. It’s not about defending anything.”
Batch was appointed as national coach in December 2016 after spending four years each as head coach of the Belgium Men’s Hockey Team and head coach of the New Zealand Men’s Hockey Team.
He also represented Australia for more than a decade, winning World Cup gold in 1986.
“The Kookaburras have had a significant period of high achievement for the past 20 years. Hockey really has been one of the most successful sports in Australia,” he said.
“We lost the world no.1 status after the Rio Olympic Games and regained it at the end of last year [at the Hockey World League in India]. It was nice to return to that level, but it wasn’t a goal that we set ourselves.”
The Kookaburras have been focused on re-establishing the strength of squad as it looks ahead to the Commonwealth Games, the December World Cup and then onto the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We made some changes after Rio and brought in some younger players. They are still learning and developing, but there have been some encouraging signs so far,” Batch said.
The Kookaburras GC2018 campaign begins on Saturday April 7 against South Africa, while the women’s Hockeyroos will face Canada on Thursday 5 April.
Renowned for its fierce rivalries and tenacious team spirit, the GC2018 hockey tournament will feature 360 athletes and 54 matches across 10 exciting days of competition.
Waverley H.C. president Roger Andrews said the Australian GC2018 hockey matches will be telecast live at the clubrooms in Ashwood.
“The club wishes Colin and the Kookaburras all the very best for the Commonwealth Games. We know their preparation has been first class, and hopefully this will be rewarded with the ultimate success,” he said.
“Colin’s contributions both on and off field were defining for Waverley’s rise to the elite level of hockey in Victoria, and the current status we continue to enjoy to this day as a Premier League club.”
Growing up in Bentleigh East, Batch with his father and three older brothers left Melbourne High School Old Boys Hockey Club and joined Waverley H.C. in 1973.
The following year, Waverley was elevated from A reserve to the top grade where it has remained for 44 years.
“I saw the transition of the club from Electra Avenue, which was a grass field to the modern venue it is now – it’s had great support from the City of Monash,” Batch said.
“I wish them all well and hope they enjoy the Commonwealth Games, and that we have a great result for our supporters out there.”
See the full GC2018 hockey schedule and come along to watch the live telecast of the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos matches at the Waverley H.C. clubrooms. Visit: waverleyhc.org.au for more details.
ABOUT WAVERLEY HOCKEY CLUB: With almost 600 members ranging from ages four to 70 and more than 40 teams, Waverley H.C. is one of Melbourne’s largest community sporting clubs. Players can progress their indoor or outdoor game from junior ranks through to elite levels or adult social grades and onto Masters competition. Established in 1958, the club has produced 15 Australian representatives and countless Victorian players, while life member Colin Batch was appointed head coach of the Australian men’s Kookaburras in December 2016.