So we still await the return of competitive action during what is now almost a 5 month pause. Later on in this blog I’ll comment on the current situation, but first let’s focus on some more positive news.
As it stood for the 2020 cycle of World Championships we had taken the difficult decision to not send an Under 20s team. This unfortunately marked the first occasion where we stopped sending a team to a particular group. This was disappointing, but the response we’d had from eligible players for trials, and also just general communication about interest, meant that a team just wasn’t viable.
Now that the 2020 tournaments have been delayed to 2021 we have a chance to reassess this and hopefully put a team together. We are committed to this happening, as our starting point in any campaign is to send teams to all world championships. So far it is looking more promising.
An official invitation will be posted on our social media shortly. In the meantime any players who are interested in trying out should get in touch with team manager Patrick Cox (email@example.com). Players are eligible if they are born 1st of January 2000 or later.
However, please only get in touch if you are genuinely interested. It’s crucial that we don’t have another false start here. If you are genuinely interested we want to hear from you, and please, please, please once you have made contact make sure you respond to the management team when they ask for info, and be clear if anything changes in your life which means your interest changes.
Onto the return to play. I’m guessing many of you will have seen that sporting governing bodies have had to make a submission to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) about how their sport can safely transition back into normal activity. This was quite an undertaking and I must thank the people around our sport who helped on this. I’m not going to single anyone out, but you know who you are.
We await a response on our plan from DCMS, but in the meantime, it may be useful for clubs to start to think about their return to play. Just to summarise.
1. We know many of you are doing informal fitness and stick/ball sessions in small groups outdoors. This is great and encouraging, but please ensure that you are doing this safely (see point 3 below). You should also remember that this is all you can do at the moment without DCMS approving BHUK’s plan, and consequently BHUK approving your plans. I don’t expect the Government to look kindly on any instances of breaking the rules, and it will not help ball hockey’s attempts to get their plan approved. Just to be clear, as governing body we will not tolerate any breaking of the rules. If you are not sure what you can do at present, please get in touch.
2. Lots of people will want to know about the current season of 2019/20. We recently made a document available to the regional conferences on our plans, which should have been cascaded to team managers. If you’ve not seen this, speak to you team manager in the first instance. I won’t go into all of the detail, but our feeling is that if we cannot resume normal competition by approximately mid October, then we will be forced to cancel the season. We have seven nationals events to complete and we feel that to get these done before the end of 2020, bearing in mind the build up to Christmas, mid October is where we need to begin again. This could vary a little dependent on venue availability. We really don’t feel that we want to try to complete the 2019/20 season once we get into 2021. We just don’t think this makes sense. We have offered our advice to conferences on what they should do with the remainder of their seasons, but this remains firmly their decision.
3. The return to play document we have sent to DCMS contains lots of information about the do’s and don’ts in relation to resumption of training and competition. We’ll share that with the conferences/clubs next week. However, there are things you can be getting ready for in advance:
A. Contact details of your players/coaches/managers/spectators will be very important to any track and trace system. We have a document for you to use for track and trace, but this is only as good as the information that goes into it. B. In a similar vein, do you have any people who have heightened concerns about Covid-19 due to medical reasons? Again, you need to know this. C. Do you have shared equipment for training? If so, you need to stop the loan of kit or make sure you have a regime for cleaning it after use. D. Do you need to provide hand sanitiser or is it available at your venue? E. If we are allowed to train indoors again, but still in small groups, can you sustain this in your venue. Can you appropriately distance? What is your maximum capacity? If numbers are reduced, can you financially sustain training?
These are the very basics, and you are likely to have more to do in advance of a full return to play, but getting some of this in hand now will help later on.
That’s all from me for now. I hope that my next blog will focus on some progress in the return to play, but of course we hope the national backdrop is one of a healthy country that is safely returning to normal.
Rob Clayton, BHUK President