Grant’s coaching feats recognised

Best of both worlds . . . Aoraki highway patrol team leader Ben Grant has been recognised by New Zealand Hockey with an outstanding contribution to coaching award. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Police officer Ben Grant has been recognised by New Zealand Hockey for laying down the law to his players.

At the recent Hockey New Zealand Awards Grant was presented with an outstanding contribution to coaching award for his work with Timaru Boys’ High School (TBHS) and Hockey South Canterbury.

Grant has coached the TBHS First XI hockey team for the past 12 years, and led the team to Rankin Cup glory for the first time in September.

He has also contributed significantly to the under-15 and under-18 boys Hockey South Canterbury representative teams and age group development programmes.

Grant, who has been involved in the sport since the age of 4, said the award was not just for him.

‘‘It really reflects the effort that a whole lot of people have put in over quite a few years.

Champion coaches . . . Celebrating with the Rankin Cup are Timaru Boys’ High School First XI hockey coach Ben Grant (left) and assistant coach Liam Parker.

‘‘I’ve had some really strong assistant coaches and some outstanding managers. It really takes the whole management group to get results.

‘‘It almost seems unfair that you get the rap for what is a whole lot of people’s effort. At the end of the day I’m just the person guiding it.’’

He began his coaching career at TBHS at the age of 20.

Despite having no formal coaching experience, he had been umpiring hockey up to a high level and possessed a good knowledge of the game.

‘‘I was pretty green and very much learning as I went along. Obviously you pick up a few courses and learn the hard way by just jumping in the deep end.

‘‘Things just snowballed from there. I never would have thought I’d be doing it for 12 years but time goes pretty quickly and you just develop your craft year by year.’’

He said coaching became infectious.

‘‘When you start getting involved it’s pretty rewarding, especially when you start achieving stuff that you’ve never been able to before.’’

In 2019 he coached TBHS to their first Canterbury Championship and guided them to second place at the Rankin Cup, their highest finish at the time before winning it this year.

Grant has been successful on an individual basis as well, winning awards such as the New Zealand Police sport official of the year in 2016, South Canterbury coach of the year in 2020 and South Canterbury sports official of the year in 2021.

He said as a coach, his philosophy was wanting to create good people as well as good hockey players.

‘‘One of my big things was trying to develop a positive culture and just making sure the boys are really enjoying it because that’s where they are more likely to succeed.

‘‘A lot of coaches are maybe more focused on the technical elements of the game, purely just upskilling. I wanted to build a good team, culture and environment.

‘‘We want to see them come through and be leaders of the school, do well in their school work and just be good blokes. There’s no point just teaching them to be a good hockey player.’’

With an ongoing 14-year police career under his belt, the Aoraki highway patrol team leader said he said he had been lucky to be as involved as he was with hockey.

Sideline sergeant . . . Ben Grant surveys the scene from the sideline as he coaches South Canterbury at the national under-18 competition this year.

‘‘I’m very fortunate that in my role I have an element of flexibility but I’ve still got to do my 40 hours a week.

‘‘Police are really good and it’s fair to say if I was in a standard nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday with four weeks of annual leave a year I wouldn’t get away with it.

‘‘It’s sometimes a bit of a juggling act. Hockey can sometimes add an extra 20 hours a week when you add the training, travelling and analysis. It can become a bit draining but it’s rewarding at the same time. You have to love it to do it.’’

Grant is set to leave coaching to fully focus on umpiring after receiving his international qualification in 2017.

He umpires in Christchurch every second weekend and wants to aim to make it every weekend next year.

He is not fully hanging up his coaching hat, however, and will continue to work with the under-18 team.