Hockey players told to shelve funding efforts for Rio Olympics

Black Sticks teams will now be able to concentrate on their preparation for the Olympics. Photo / Malcolm Pullman
Black Sticks teams will now be able to concentrate on their preparation for the Olympics. Photo / Malcolm Pullman

Top hockey athletes are no longer being told to find funding for their bid for the Rio Olympics.

Coaches and management instead want them focusing on their training and performances.

Members of the Black Sticks were reportedly told by Hockey New Zealand they would need to find sponsors to fund the countdown towards the Rio Olympics, Fairfax reported.

Both the men's and women's squads of 25 were asked to seek out $12,000 funding packages which would go towards extra support for the players at their 12-week camp in Auckland before the games.

They were given to the end of January to find sponsorship which was then extended to the end of February. Hockey New Zealand chief executive Ian Francis said the organisation had retracted that directive.

"This was an initiative created last year ... it was designed based on the old model we had in 2012 prior to the London Olympics.

We had the Hawkes Bay sponsorship which was fantastic for us in that we got a group of like-minded businesses who supported their bid for London.

"I took over that acting role in early January and from that moment we identified that we didn't want the players to have a distraction and we wanted them to focus on Rio and just concentrate on their performance," he said.

"We actually believe we have got two legitimate chances of medalling and hopefully getting the right colour medals as well. We wanted absolute focus for our players to be on preparing and training as best they could."

Francis said there had been a mixed reaction from the players after they were asked to find their own funding.

"Some players were successful in being able to [get] some personal sponsorship out of it as well so in that sense it was good, but generally players, and we believe the same thing, should just be focused on their performances and actually training and preparing ... for Rio."

Francis said the sponsorship that had been raised by some athletes would be put into their personal campaigns.

He admitted athletes weren't paid what they should be given the full-time hours they put into training."We acknowledge [the athletes] are not remunerated as well as they can be because they are essentially full-time.

Any support that we can give them is fantastic for them."

- NZ Herald

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