The Kookaburras’ stellar 2019 has been officially recognised with Head Coach Colin Batch named the FIH Men’s Coach of the Year.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) just publicly announced Batch as the recipient of the award, 24 hours after Hockeyroo Rachael Lynch won the FIH Female Goalkeeper of the Year.
While aware that the FIH’s announcement of the coach award was imminent, the usually calm and composed Batch was taken aback when Kookaburras co-captains Eddie Ockenden and Aran Zalewski made the surprise presentation to him in front of the squad after training.
Batch becomes just the second Australian alongside Ric Charlesworth to win the award that was first presented in 2014 and is determined by an FIH panel.
“It’s a great honour to be named and the way I look at it, it is recognition of the whole program and what the Kookaburras have achieved over the last 12 months,” said Batch.
“Last year was great to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and also win the inaugural Pro League title…we really enjoyed playing in the competition.”
Having taken the Kookaburras to the number one world ranking at the end of a year that also saw him become a grandparent for the first time, Batch acknowledged it would not be possible without his support network headlined by his family.
“I get great support from my wife Linda, my kids and their extended family, and also my mum and brothers over in Melbourne,” said Batch.
“You don’t get into these positions by chance. I have had a lot of good support along the way and I want to acknowledge Hockey Australia, they appointed me three years ago and I’m really enjoying working with the Kookaburras. I also want to thank FIH for making this award possible.”
“These Kookaburras players are a great group to train and to coach. We have a good time…it’s often challenging and sometimes you have difficult conversations with each other, but by and large we have the one goal and that is to improve.
“Finally, the other thing I need to acknowledge is that while I am the head of the program, I have some great staff to work with. They are first class and I really see this as an award for everyone, not just me as a coach.”
In a decade long playing career with the Kookaburras that included winning the 1986 World Cup, Batch started coaching in 2001 and took over the reins of Australia’s men’s team in 2016 following head coach appointments with Belgium and New Zealand.
“From the time Colin was appointed Kookaburras coach he has been exemplary in the way he has led the coaching element of the program and built a positive and unified culture among the group,” said Hockey Australia President Melanie Woosnam.
“Being a successful coach at the elite level requires much more than just overseeing what happens on the pitch these days, and this award is testament to Colin’s continual striving for excellence, improvement and getting the best out of not only himself but the staff and players around him.”
Meanwhile, Kookaburras goalkeeper Tyler Lovell has come runner up in the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Award (Men) to Belgium’s Vincent Vanasch.