Sean Dancer, who has been coaching hockey at a national level in New Zealand for seven years after a similar length of time in Belgium.
Sean Dancer, who has been coaching hockey at a national level in New Zealand for seven years after a similar length of time in Belgium. William Booth

Hockey coach dancing to a Kiwi tune

BALLINA hockey product Sean Dancer will coach the New Zealand Under-21 women's team at the Junior World Cup in Chile.

A former Australian Under-21 representative, Dancer grew up near Shaws Bay and played all his junior hockey for Ballina before moving to Brisbane when he was 21.

He played for the Queensland Blades in the Australian Hockey League from 1996 to 2002 and won four straight Brisbane Hockey League premierships with the Bulimba Bulls from 1999 to 2002.

Dancer never planned to be a coach but after leaving Australia for what he thought would be a one-year working holiday in Belgium in 2001 he enjoyed the playing and coaching there so much he ended up staying in Europe for seven seasons.

After retiring as a player he was offered a full-time role in New Zealand and has been there since 2009 as a full-time coach.

"I enjoy the challenge of trying to develop players to their potential and find ways of winning against different teams,” he said.

"The world of coaching is constantly progressing and I am keen to stay involved as much as possible.

"The Far North Coast also has a great hockey community and I hope to one day be able to be back there working in the sport.”

Dancer attended the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games as a part-time assistant coach with the New Zealand Black Sticks men's team and was appointed assistant coach of the national women's team in January 2014.

The New Zealand Under-21 women's team will open its Junior World Cup campaign in Santiago against Belgium on November 24, with Spain and China also in their pool.

"The Junior World Cup is the pinnacle for these young players who are extremely excited about the opportunity,” Dancer said.

"Not many have been to South America which will also be a different cultural eye-opener for them.”

Does he get any grief from friends or family being an Aussie in charge of a New Zealand team?

"Most of my mates are pretty good. Not too many give me a hard time,” he said.

"As mums do they always support you and I think Dad quietly backs our team too now.”



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