Tokyo Olympics: Hockey – Meet the Coaches

Field Hockey in the Olympics

Hockey became an official Olympic sport at the London 1908 Games when six men’s teams competed and England won the gold medal. The sport was then dropped from the programme, reappearing at Antwerp 1920 but omitted again at Paris 1924. The creation of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey in 1924 was not soon enough for the Paris Games but it did grant hockey re-entry at Amsterdam 1928. Hockey has been on the programme ever since, with a women’s competition added at Moscow 1980.

Until the 1970s, hockey was predominantly played on grass. However, top-level matches now take place on synthetic turf pitches which are watered to allow the ball to pass over the surface smoother and faster. Indeed, hockey balls are capable of reaching speeds of up to 200 km/h. The first Olympic tournament to be played on artificial turf was Montreal 1976. The transition from grass to artificial turf has had an immeasurable impact on the sport, allowing the development of new skills and tactics as well as greatly enhancing the spectator experience.

At Tokyo 2020, both the men’s and women’s competitions will begin with a preliminary pool phase before the strongest teams move into a knockout stage leading towards the medal matches.

Female Coaches

For the Tokyo Olympics, there will be 12 teams fighting for the gold medal. Only two of those teams have a female Head Coach, making that a percentage of 16.6%.

Meet the female Head Coaches below:

Alyson Annan – Netherlands

Alyson Annan was voted the Best Female Hockey Player in the World in 1999. In the following year, she led the Australian team to gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics. She subsequently retired from international competition and moved to the Netherlands. In the Netherlands she played for HC Klein Zwitserland from The Hague. She retired in 2003, becoming the coach of Dutch league team HC Klein Zwitserland. In 2004, she was an assistant of Dutch Head Coach Marc Lammers at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, when the Netherlands won silver.

Annan was married to Argentinian hockey player, Maximiliano Caldas. After their divorce her partner became Carole Thate, a former Dutch hockey captain and fellow Olympic medallist. Annan and Thate had their first child, Sam Henk Brian Thate, in May 2007.Their second son, Cooper Thate, was born in October 2008.

Annan was to be the coach of the first women’s team of the Amsterdamsche Hockey & Bandy Club during the 2012–2013 season.

In 2013 Annan was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

In October 2015 she was named as head coach of the Netherlands women’s team, succeeding Sjoerd Marijne. Annan’s former husband Max Caldas previously coached the Netherlands women’s team to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. During the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro Annan coached her team to a silver medal losing to the Great Britain Team after shoot-outs in the final.

Katrina Powell – Australia 

Katrina Powell OAM is a field hockey player from Australia, who competed in three consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1996, for her native country.

Powell was a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team, best known as the Hockeyroos, that won the gold medals at the 1996 and the 2000 Summer Olympics. Powell has represented her country 252 times, and scored 141 goals. She is the sister of Lisa Powell and the sister-in-law of Stuart Carruthers.

Powell was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 1997 Australia Day Honours and the Australian Sports Medal in June 2000.

In March 2021, she was appointed Hockeyroos coach – the first female coach of the side in 43 years.