When England Hockey took the decision to suspend hockey on 17 March, it was clear that exactly when and how the sport would be able to return would take time to resolve. Until recently the focus has rightly been on the hockey family, demonstrating its collective spirit through support for charities, key workers in clubs and looking out for our local communities or other club members as well as engaging within the hockey community and beyond on social media. The focus has not been on returning to hockey until the last week.
With so much uncertainty the aim has been to make decisions on key issues at the right times. Getting the timing right on this has been particularly tricky and will continue to present challenges over the coming months. The aim of this message is to share what we believe the probable steps are likely to be, and in headline terms, the possible implications for the 2020-21 season.
The considerations set out here are all dependent on the ongoing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and relevant government guidance. We would encourage our players, clubs and associations to interpret these as a guide and support & align to the work that will need to be done if plans change. At this stage it is not possible to make definitive plans.
What will be allowed?
The government alert levels announced on 10 and 13 May – and England Hockey’s subsequent response – set out the first clear steps to emerging from lockdown. These alert levels will not relate directly to hockey activity and having reviewed the information from other countries and other sports we have set out five steps to returning to ‘normal’. Three relate to training, and two relate to match play activities. These are as follows:
|Step 1: Training
One-to-one / household group
|Step 2: Socially Distanced Training
Small groups but with social distancing in place
|Step 3: Small Group Training
Small group training allowed with some closer contact allowed. Allowing for tackling/marking etc. (some age groups may be allowed to start this stage earlier)
|Step 4: Local Match Play
Intra club / local matches can happen but restrictions prevent leagues / main competitions resuming (e.g. if travel is still an issue due to car sharing or local lockdowns are in place)
|Step 5: Full Competitive Match Play
Full leagues / competitions resume