Coaches at the top of their game

Hockey New Zealand is proud to award three Outstanding Contribution to Coaching Awards for 2023. The recipients all embody the coaching values of Hockey NZ and have contributed greatly, not only to their local communities, but to the wider community as well.


 In recognition of his contributions to coaching in 2023, Manawatū’s Brandon Roach has been presented with a Hockey NZ Outstanding Contribution to Coaching award. Roach’s coaching roles included lead coaching the Manawatū U18 Girls, Manawatū NHC Women, Feilding High School Boys 1st XI, and both Division 1 Men and Women at Feilding Hockey Club. 

 Demonstrating a commitment to Hockey NZ’s core coaching beliefs, Roach earned a spot in the Future Black Sticks Coaches Programme, showcasing a desire for continuous learning. In his inaugural coaching year, he led a successful NHC campaign, securing association of origin players and fostering a cohesive team environment, resulting in a commendable fourth-place finish in Tier 1. Roach’s eye for strategy, evident in his thorough film reviews, ensures his teams are strategically positioned for success. 

 Roach’s impact extends beyond the field, with a significant influence on the youth and adult coaching systems in Manawatū. His commitment and mentorship have also contributed to the development of Future Black Sticks. Roach’s dedication to player growth is evident in his inclusive approach, incorporating younger coaches into his teams to nurture a new generation of coaching talent. 

 Having coached at various levels for a number of years, including secondary school, club, and representative teams, Roach is widely praised for his knowledge and positive influence on players.  


 Ben Grant has been honoured with an Outstanding Contribution to Coaching award for his great work in South Canterbury in 2023. Grant’s multifaceted coaching roles involved planning and executing summer development programs for U15 and U18 groups, coaching the Timaru Boys High School (TBHS) 1st XI, and mentoring assistant coaches to foster their growth. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in coaching the South Canterbury U18 side and provided valuable assistance to local umpires in their development. 

 Grant’s coaching philosophy is evident in his commitment to growing the game and developing coaches and leaders. He actively engages in fundraising and organising events, showcasing his dedication to the holistic growth of the sport. Grant’s emphasis on video analysis, both with a coaching and umpiring perspective, reflects his keen understanding of modern trends and structures in the game. Moreover, he has cultivated strong relationships within his teams, creating a culture where players work hard, communicate effectively, and feel comfortable approaching him with any concerns. 

 On a broader scale, Grant’s impact extends locally, regionally, and nationally. His influence has inspired others to take up coaching roles, contributing to the consistent improvement of school and representative sides over the past decade. South Canterbury and TBHS have gained recognition on the national scene, in large part thanks to the work that he has done, with TBHS winning the Rankin Cup this year.  

 Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, Grant remained committed to South Canterbury’s success, showcasing personal growth and adaptability. His coaching legacy includes an impressive 411 games over 12 years.


 In acknowledgment of his exemplary coaching contributions in 2023, Sunjay Ganda has been recognised for his invaluable role in shaping and enhancing hockey coaching in Canterbury. 

Ganda served as a Coach Developer for Canterbury Hockey Association (CHA), overseeing under 13, 15, 18, and senior programs, and led coach development courses.  

 His coaching roles extended to St Margarets First XI, Hornby Premier Men, Canterbury Beavers, and within the Canterbury Performance system. Notably, Ganda also holds the position of manager for the NZ U21 Men. 

 Ganda exhibits a remarkable ability to build meaningful relationships with athletes, irrespective of age or gender. His approachable and understanding nature, coupled with a larger-than-life personality, fosters a comfortable environment for all. Ganda’s commitment to continuous learning stood out, actively participating in upskilling opportunities through CHA, HNZ, and Sport NZ. His leadership within CHA and HNZ positioned him as a trusted coach developer, sought after for advice and guidance. 

 Ganda’s impact reverberated across local, regional, and national coaching systems. He played a pivotal role in establishing the local coach developer network in Canterbury, elevating the quality of coaching by upskilling coaches and fostering a collaborative learning environment.  

 His coaching tenure with the Canterbury Beavers resulted in an impressive six national tier 2 titles in the last eight years. Ganda’s transformative leadership elevated the team from a “social team” to a formidable B team, garnering respect and aspiration among players.  


Posted on Tuesday, 21 November, 2023 | Feature