Friday, August 14, 2009


Dave Ross has joined an elite group of three development coaches who are being groomed to coach the Black Sticks.

Hockey New Zealand announced yesterday that Ross and former Otago representatives Tina Bell-Kake (Auckland) and Hymie Gill (Hamilton) have been named as coaches to receive special instruction from former Black Sticks coach Kevin Towns.

The expectation is that they will step up to coach the Black Sticks in the future.

Ross (50), a teacher at Kings High School, was pleased with his appointment.

"I have been working towards this for a long time," he said.

"I hope to coach the New Zealand Juniors in the next cycle, in four years' time.

"Further down the track, if I'm lucky, it could open up a position to coach the Black Sticks."

The last Otago person to coach the New Zealand men's side was Ray McKinlay, in 1969.

Ross has had a wide experience of coaching in Otago from the Hatch Cup level to senior level for Otago and the Southern regional team.

He has also coached the New Zealand indoor team that played world champion Australia in test series in the 1990s and beat it in a few tests.

"You have got to do your time at the lower end of the sport before you can advance to senior level," Ross said.

Hockey New Zealand coaching and development officer Brad Jensen said that the coaching structure and pathway to the top positions had now been formalised.

"We want to create a small group of coaches who aspire to be national coaches, progress them and put them into a position where they can become future Black Stick coaches," Jensen told the Otago Daily Times from Auckland.

"Kevin Towns will be a sounding board to help them become better equipped to handle high performance hockey."

There were 17 applicants for the jobs and this was reduced to a short-list of six before the three were appointed.

"They will attend Black Sticks training camps and will be assessed on their progress," Jensen said.

Jensen said the development coaches were the next tier down from the current national panel.

"It is initially for a one-year cycle and we will reassess it then to see where we go from there, " he said.

"The knowledge the coaches gain will be valuable for local work and will help the regional development of New Zealand hockey."

Ross has always been skilled at analysing the weaknesses in opponents and developing a strategy to win games.

"The advance of technology with the Gamebreaker software has changed the approach to the sport," Ross said.

Video analysis tapes and codifies games, to identify opponents' weak spots.

"I will be learning a lot of new things and how to use the technology to get the edge. We have been a bit backward in Otago."

The Gamebreaker software costs $56,000 and it is too expensive for Otago Hockey, which borrows the machine owned by the South Island Academy of Sport when it needs to do analysis.

Hymie Gill (36), the director of hockey at Hamilton Boys High School, grew up in Mosgiel and played Hatch Cup hockey for Otago before being educated at Christs College in Christchurch.

He played senior hockey for the province when he studied for his BA in history and political science at the University of Otago.

Gill played 79 games for the Black Sticks between 1997 and 2002.

Tina Bell-Kake first played for New Zealand when she was a physical education student at Otago and played 132 games for the Black Sticks between 1986 and 2000.