There is shock , disbelief and anger amongst many  hockey fans in Argentina with the news, as yet to be officially confirmed ,  that both the  coaches of the men  and women  national teams have had their contracts immediately terminated  as for example has been  reported today in the sport section of  La Nacion ‘s website This follows the very recent elections of  new executives to the CAH,  the Argentine Hockey Federation for the next four year cycle. Part of that anger,  at grass roots level, appears to stem from the new president coming from a political rather than a sports background.

In England and elsewhere, executives and most board members of various sports national governing bodies are in the main people with heavy and usually long previous involvement  or association in the  grass roots of their sport and  often also  former players with broad experience of the game . Anibal Fernandez  was very recently unanimously elected as  the new president of the CAH for a term of four years  and yet  is, I hear , a powerful senator and  a man close to the Argentine president . He appears to have previously little or no direct background  involvement in  sport or indeed hockey.

With a sinking ship in the corporate sector we might expect a new broom to be drafted in and be  necessarily ruthless  fairly immediately but here is a nation with a game that is and has been for some time, a   steady ship, its men’s squad now making significant strides forward and the women continuing to excel and former world champions and currently  world ranked second if my memory serves me well. In general  we are accustomed to a new captain taking over the helm of a sport’s governing body , keeping the ship steadily on a similar course after the handover of command . We do not normally  expect or see as necessary such  immediate radical changes.  Yet , after hardly  a week has passed since he took  office, Fernandez   has apparently   sacked the Senior men’s national coach, Nicola Franco, and then  the recently appointed Marcerlo Garraffo ,  the senior women’s national team , ( Las Leonas’s) coach.



The former coach of Las Leonas, Carlos Retegui , whom Garrafo succeeded, has I hear ,now been appointed to the men’s national  hockey team coaching role.  Both sackings have possibly  angered and perplexed the coaches concerned  but exiting  men’s coach Nicola Franco,  although apparently shocked ,admits he “saw it coming” and as  possibly the result of him opposing the proposed integration of the body of technical advisers. It appears that the women’s team are deeply unhappy and saddened by the untimely  departure of Marcerlo Garraffo and do not want to lose him.   Viewed  from the outside , this is a highly unusual and somewhat bizarre development for fans of the game and especially perhaps even more so for fans of the highly successful women’s national team.

The great teams in the world have constantly raised the bar in recent years  , testament to new more professional mind set and the applications of science, more focused  training and coaching strategies and above all, continuity and stability on the coaching side would reasonably be expected to maintain momentum.

This sort of development, coaches suddenly going  will no doubt greatly damage team morale and to an extent very likely impact on player confidence in those behind the game. It will very probabkly be a major headache for the eventual replacement. Such sweeping and swift  changes are virtually  unheard of in the major hockey playing nation’s federations  particularly in teams high in the world rankings .Premature  terminations of  head coach contracts usually happen when a coach  fails, or appears to have failed   to deliver at key events they have worked towards usually up to that point with the complete backing of their employers and  not because of apparent divisions between professional technical staff and  executives of their sport’s governing body. Whether this is in fact the cas,e with these sudden changes of key technical personnel,   it is highly likely that the wider hockey world will see it as a kind of power struggle.

I hear from separate independent hockey journalist  websites that an official announcement of these  matters is expected  to me made perhaps at the beginning of next week. Of course such matters are going to be a source of much speculation now and even after those formal announcements as there was with the apprarently arbitrary dropping of Sole Garcia before the Olympics and the departure of Carlos Retegui and it is again unlikely that much detail will be shared as to how such decisions were reached.


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