SYDNEY, March 18 (Reuters) - An independent review of Australia’s national women’s hockey team discovered a “dysfunctional culture” conducive to neither player wellbeing nor on-field success, Hockey Australia said on Thursday.
The coach of the three-times Olympic champion Hockeyroos, Paul Gaudoin, resigned on Wednesday ahead of the release of the findings of the report, which Hockey Australia will not be making public in full.
“Broadly the review found a dysfunctional culture ... that is not conducive to athlete wellbeing or sustained on-field success and identified numerous areas for improvement,” HA said in a statement.
“This outcome has been confronting and distressing for Hockey Australia. The process of the review has seen us all reflect seriously over the past months about what we could do better.”
The review was launched last December after allegations of a “toxic culture and bullying” in the women’s high performance programme, including incidents of body-shaming and homophobia.
The governing body said the 29 recommendations in the review would provide a “strong roadmap” for improvements in the elite women’s programme but stopped short of a commitment to implement them all.
Hockey Australia said it supported the “intent and principles” of some of the recommendations, including striking a better work-life balance for players, improvements in governance and developing a culture of safety and respect.
Gaudoin’s resignation follows that of high performance manager Toni Cumpston in January, leaving the programme in turmoil a few months out from the Tokyo Olympics.
“The findings have been shared with the players and we will work with them to make changes to design and implement a cultural transformation programme,” the statement added.
“With the Olympic Games less than four months away, we intend to fast-track our action plan to take into account the immediate priority of performing at our best in Tokyo.”
Australia, gold medallists at the 1988, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, are currently ranked fourth in the world in women’s hockey behind the Netherlands, Argentina and Germany. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)