Kookaburras star Andrew Charter has come forward to expose a crisis unfolding at Hockey Australia months out from the Paris Olympics.
The goalkeeper on Monday shone a light on a sad detail of the Kookaburras’ playing jersey as the national team heads into its Olympic year campaign without a major sponsor.
The world champion keeper’s sad post about the team’s plight has resonated with sport commentators — and has been met with disbelief from some sport fans.
It compounds funding problems confronting Hockey Australia after the Hockeyroos’ funding from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) was slashed by almost 50 per cent after the women’s team was eliminated in the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The funding cut was the result of a blunt assessment from the AIS that suggested there are limited expectations about the Hockeyroos’ hopes of winning a medal in Paris — something the team has been unable to do since the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The women’s team has also been dragged through scandals of player revolts and allegations of cultural problems within its high performance program.
The Kookaburras, meanwhile, have been one of the most celebrated teams in Australian Olympic sports recently, after winning gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and silver at the Tokyo Olympics.
It’s why Charter’s post has received such attention.
“Today is a sad day for my sport,” he posted on LinkedIn.
“For the first time in my 14 year career I was presented with my playing jersey lacking a major front of shirt sponsor.
“That’s right the Kookaburras one of Australia’s most iconic sporting teams are not able to find a major corporate sponsor 7 months out from the Paris Olympics even after securing a silver in Tokyo, an agreement for all matches to be shown on 7+ leading into the event, a lack of scandal or controversy and a commitment from the WA government to provide training facilities for the next decade.
“While it may not be the Kookaburras of 2024 who feel this impact immediately, it will in the future and ultimately our sport as a whole if it stays this way.
“If there are any corporations out there looking to support an Australian Team made up of engineers, accountants, electricians, physio’s and more… I reckon it’s good real estate.”
His post was shared by Network 10 icon Sandra Sully, who vacated her position on the Hockey Australia board of directors last year.
She made a public plea on Twitter for corporations to reach out and help.
Sully shared with her Twitter followers a number of messages she received after sharing the news on social media.
Sport journalist Adam Clifford wrote: “The men’s gold medal game was the most watched event at the Tokyo Olympics, outside of athletics. Crazy situation”.
ABC reporter Lucy Cooper wrote: “Australian hockey has always performed consistently and in an outstanding manner on the world stage … this is wrong on so many levels”.
One Twitter user wrote: “This is shameful. What is the motivation for the sponsors? We need a marketing campaign to get them a sponsor”.
The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos finished a two-year sponsorship agreement with mining giant Fortescue in June.
The Kookaburras in August wore a jersey sponsored by SportsLink Travel for the Oceania Cup in New Zealand, but the arrangement did not extend beyond the tournament.
The Kookaburras were knocked out in the semi-finals of 2023 Hockey World Cup by Germany, but remain one of the favourites to claim gold in Paris.