Hockey Australia turns to ex-softball boss
Former softball boss David Pryles has been entrusted with making sure the Hockeyroos' dramas of the past don't resurface after being appointed as Hockey Australia's new chief executive.
Pryles comes to HA after three-and-a-half years as the chief executive of Softball Australia.
He replaces Matt Favier, who stood down as HA's chief executive following the Tokyo Olympics.
Favier was forced to deal with numerous and ongoing controversies during his reign involving the national women's hockey team - the Hockeyroos.
Years of discontent within the Hockeyoos' set-up reached boiling point late in 2020 when players started talking to the media to air allegations of bullying within what they labelled a toxic environment.
HA eventually launched an independent review which found that a dysfunctional culture existed within the national women's high performance program.
High performance director Toni Cumpston had already fallen on her sword by that stage, and coach Paul Gaudoin quit just hours before the release of the report.
It left the Hockeyroos without a coach less than five months out from the Tokyo Games, with Katrina Powell thrust into the role on a short-term contract.
The Hockeyroos made a hot start to the tournament before suffering a shock 1-0 loss to India in the quarter-finals.
With Pryles now locked in as chief executive, HA will move its attention to appointing a full-time coach for the Hockeyroos, with Powell understood to be in the running.
Powell played a key role in unifying the Hockeyroos at a time when internal fractures threatened to tear the team apart, and she received widespread praise from the player group.
But HA is well aware that the long-standing problems of the past don't just magically disappear in a matter of months, with the organisation committed to building on the early foundations that have been set.
"Building on the cultural review into the high performance program is something that is exciting," Pryles said.
"We are really proud of the changeover that we did in softball in changing our high performance program less than 12 months out from a qualification event.
"There is a Commonwealth Games less than 12 months away and an Olympics two-and-a-half years away, so it's really exciting being able to affect change."
Under Pryles' leadership, Softball Australia became a member of the Australian Pride in Sport program in December last year, highlighting his strong ethos on inclusion - one of Hockey Australia's core values.
Pryles will start in the HA role on January 12.
HA president Melanie Woosnam will step down in November, and HA will also need to appoint a new high performance director.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch, who guided the men's hockey team to silver in Tokyo, is contracted for 2022.
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