Updated: Nov 20, 2020
This is the first blog from me in some time. Most of my work in the recent months has been dominated by COVID-19 and our return to play. While we looked to be progressing toward this for a significant period, this has now, in the main, come to a halt due to recent restrictions. This said, Wales is now emerging from their circuit break and socially distanced indoor hockey looks set to commence soon.
Lots of people have spoken to me recently about what ball hockey will look like when we return and what events may take place. We are currently working on a document that sets out what may be possible if any of the 2020/21 season remains when restrictions allow. All of this will is heavily qualified by how the restrictions will be lifted. If we work on the assumption that we will emerge gradually from the restrictions, which I think is a fair assumption based on what has happened so far, then certain types of hockey may be more viable than others. I’ve had more than one person say to me that the Fantastic Fours or a similar event, with a large amount of teams, would be a great way to celebrate an end to COVID-19. I would certainly agree with this, but large events like this (24 teams meeting over two days) may not be possible in the early days of our return to play. Local play, between just two teams may be all that we can hope for in those early stages. Whatever happens we’ll continue to have plans in place that can be activated as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.
A really pleasing aspect of the last few months has been the amount of people coming forward to offer help. Some of these offers have come from people on the circuit who I’ve possibly seen, but never properly met before. I think under normal circumstances taking up offers of help prior to meeting someone face to face is something you probably wouldn’t do. However I think we are all getting used to working in a different way where tools like Zoom and Teams have become a part of everyday life. Consequently I’ve made some additions to the BHUK team that I think will make a real difference and I’ll be announcing these in the next week or so. In addition, the interview phase of our search for a head referee should be imminent.
Now for a shout out to some of the most important, but sometimes forgotten, people on the BHUK circuit. I can hear goalies and defensive D-men sitting up and taking notice in the hope of recognition, but I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint them. I’m referring to team managers. Team managers, whether they have volunteered for the role or had their arms twisted are often the unsung heroes of many of our clubs. I think COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated this. In the main it is team managers who have taken on the responsibility within clubs to negotiate the return to play process (which can be a minefield). Trying to make sense of emerging guidance, liaising with BHUK, writing risk assessments and speaking with the venues are just some of the tasks they have had to cope with, and so far this has all resulted in very little hockey being played unfortunately. I’d say the response from managers has been almost entirely positive and when we do make our full return all players will owe their respective manager a thank you for the work that has been going on in the background. Keep up the good work out there, and it will pay off in the long run.
I’m hoping that many of you will have seen the interview on the NHL Network with ISBHF President George Gortsos. If not, check out the link.
As ever George was a great ambassador for our sport, helping it gain further exposure. For those who have met George on one of his visits to the UK you will know that he is truly a force of nature and exudes enthusiasm for our sport. I hope he will visit us again soon and I would encourage anyone who gets the chance to speak with him to do so. Thanks to George and everyone who made the interview possible.