Brown and Keegan step down from coaching roles

Craig Keegan, Lily Owsley and Karen Brown

After helping to achieve historic gold medal success in Rio last summer, Karen Brown and Craig Keegan have decided to step down from their roles as assistant coaches to the England and Great Britain women’s hockey team.

Brown is England and Great Britain’s second-highest capped player of all time, with 355 caps to her name, as well as Olympic bronze, European gold and Commonwealth silver medals from her playing days. Add to that Olympic gold & bronze, European gold, Commonwealth silver and World Cup bronze as a coach, and her achievements on and off the pitch are unsurpassed in the sport in this country.

Keegan’s contribution over the past nine years has also hugely contributed to the most successful period in the history of the women’s team, with silver in Glasgow in 2014, then gold in both London and Rio in 2015 & 2016 respectively. In addition, he led our women’s under 21s to a bronze medal at the Europeans.

Brown commented, “I am immensely proud of all that the GB and England women’s teams have achieved since 2005 when I commenced working with Danny Kerry and the squad. During this period the team’s world ranking has gone from ninth in the world in 2005 to second in 2016, its highest-ever ranking and the squad has won multiple medals at every major hockey event during an unprecedented period for the sport.

“The gold medal success in Rio is obviously a highlight, but I take as much pride in the culture and environment of the Central Programme I helped to create in 2009 at Bisham Abbey. This environment has developed not just athletes, but also the coaches and support staff to produce high performing teams and maximise their individual and collective potential. My decision to step away is based on a lifestyle choice and I am delighted that I will continue to be involved in future activities with England Hockey on a consultancy basis. I would like to place on record my immense gratitude to Danny Kerry and all of the athletes and staff I have had the privilege to work with over the last eleven years and wish them all the very best for the future.”

Keegan commented, “My time at England Hockey has been an absolute pleasure. To sum it up, I’ve taken the most joy from seeing athletes develop from potential players to Olympic champions over the course of nine years.

“I’d like to thank all of the athletes, they’re the people I’ve been most passionate about working with, I had a good rapport with both the seniors and the under 21s and I will miss that immensely. I have also hugely enjoyed working with all of the staff, I coached under both Danny Kerry and Jason Lee, different characters of course but exceptionally good coaches and great to learn from both of them.

“It’s nice to be leaving the organisation in a strong position, I don’t think this is the end of the road for my coaching, but right now my family is the priority and I’m looking forward to starting work for the University of Derby, heading up their performance sport programmes.

“Of course the final memory will be Rio, and it’s hard to put it into words. Everyone involved, the 31-plus players, ten or fifteen staff, everyone played a key role. I was very privileged to be part of that and I know the department is in strong hands.”

Head Coach Danny Kerry added, “With the finishing of one cycle it is common for both athletes and staff to examine their personal circumstances. We will miss Craig’s passion and fire in our programme as he chooses understandably to spend more time with his daughter. Karen’s departure will leave a big hole in a number of areas of our programme, her huge experience and expertise will be difficult to replace. I am sure both Karen and Craig’s work and legacy will echo in our programme. As ever all change represents an opportunity if you choose to seek it. I am sure new coaching staff will bring new ideas and fresh character to our support team. In the meantime a massive thank you to Karen and Craig and I wish them the very best in their new ventures.”

Performance Director, Ed Barney commented, “With the recent and unprecedented success of the women’s squad, we owe a huge thanks and debt of gratitude to the coaches. Craig has been with us for over nine years and I’m sure the squad will miss him. I believe Craig has been integral to the development of many of our players that have developed into senior internationals and those that went on to win in Rio. We wish him all the very best in his new venture.

“With six Olympic cycles, three as a player and three as a coach, Karen has brought a huge amount of experience, passion and skill to the coaching team. Her positive contribution through both the challenging and successful moments has been critical to the continued and recent success. Her contribution will certainly be missed, but we’re delighted that Karen will be continuing to work with England and Great Britain Hockey in a coach development capacity as we look to develop the next generation of world-leading coaches.”

England Hockey would also like to place on record our gratitude to both Karen and Craig for their tremendous contribution to the sport in this country and helping to inspire a future generation of hockey players.

Applications are being sought for women’s assistant coach here.