(Photo: Treebyimages)

As a player Ric Charlesworth was recognised as one of the best in the world: as a coach he took both the Australian women’s and men’s teams to Olympic, World Cup and Champions Trophy glory, as well as countless other competitive wins during a coaching career that spanned 21 years.

Speaking recently to Tim Myers of Sports Media Group, Leandro Negre said that in time the FIH would be recognising the tremendous contribution that Charlesworth has made to the game, but for now the International Hockey Federation President just paid a verbal tribute to the Australian. “I think that there has been no-one better than Ric. Although he could be controversial, a better coach does not exist. There are many, many coaches who watched to see what Ric did next, he was a real leader for the rest of the hockey world.”

Ric Charlesworth himself spoke about the importance of a coach when it came to creating the environment in which players learnt and developed. “The coach sets the standards and leads by example. Players and the coach should be constantly looking to improve and develop their game. You have to have an intensity as both a player and a coach. If you are bland and passive, then the game just happens. You want to try to make a difference.”

Graham Reid, Kookaburra’s assistant coach, added that Charlesworth as a player had been a one-off, with skills that other players didn’t have the temerity to attempt. This was the attitude that he took into his coaching: “He will always think outside the square and he keeps his approach contemporary by constantly looking for new ways to approach the game. If I talked about structure and width, he would almost tear up the rule book and say we didn’t need width for width’s sake.”

One of FIH’s top umpires, John Wright, added that Charlesworth has “had a tremendous impact on the game. He would question our decisions, and sometimes he was right and sometimes we were right, but that approach keeps the game moving forward.”