All the news for Wednesday 29 April 2020
Surbiton crowned double champions as England Hockey reconciles 2019/20 season
Surbiton earn Investec Women's Hockey League title
Following the suspension of domestic hockey in March and the decision that no domestic hockey would be played before 30 June, this morning the England Hockey Board met and is now in a position to confirm how the 2019-20 England Hockey League season will be concluded. This varies from the standard League regulations.
England Hockey has fully considered other sports’ decisions at this time, as well as other possible options open to us before coming to these solutions. Compared to other possible alternatives these are judged to negatively and positively impact a smaller number of teams.
Following a full analysis of all possible options and a period of discussion, the key points are summarised below:
i. League Finals – As the league semi-finals and final were unplayed the Champions of the League and qualification for European competition will be determined by the standings at the end of the regular season. This means that Surbiton are both men’s and women’s league champions.
ii. Promotion & Relegation – Teams’ standings when the league stopped will be their final standings. Existing promotion and relegation regulations will be applied based on these standings (subject to iii below), including promotion from Regional Leagues.
iii. League Play-Offs – It is judged that there is no fair method to resolve the league play-offs in line with regulations. Under normal circumstances, the play-offs would see the two Division One North & South winners and Premier Division ninth-placed team play off for two Premier Division places. For 2020-21 season only the Premier Division will run with eleven teams, all of these three teams will play in the Premier Division. This also means that one team is reprieved relegation at both Division One and Conference levels. Existing relegation regulations at these levels have been extended to determine which teams are reprieved. These are, based on teams’ playing records in parallel divisions, where the ninth-placed team with the highest number of points retain its position and the other ninth-placed team(s) relegated.
England Hockey took this decision guided by the following principles. These were in priority order:
1) To retain the integrity of the competition and use existing regulations relating to promotion and relegation where possible - the outcome to be as close as possible to likely outcome for teams had the season concluded and therefore to be seen as fair.
2) A consistency of decisions for teams at different levels within the league.
3) Teams not to be disadvantaged by games that were not played.
There is of course no perfect solution to resolve an unprecedented issue such as this, but the decisions best complement these principles and affect the fewest teams.
Ultimately, decisions have been based on what has happened in 85 out of 90 games in a Division, not what might happen in five out of 90 games. A number of promotion and relegation issues were ordinarily resolved prior to the last round of matches not being played.
Beeston vs Surbiton
Nick Pink, England Hockey Chief Executive stated, "These are unprecedented times for all of us, and we are grateful to clubs for their patience while we finalised the fairest course of action. We have undertaken a very thorough process and have arrived at a solution that gives us a roadmap of how we can get the Leagues back up and running as soon as possible. We congratulate all teams who have won their division. We commiserate with relegated teams and others negatively impacted by the season being curtailed.”
As mentioned, England Hockey has considered other sports’ decisions, as well as other possible options open to us. Compared to alternatives these are judged to negatively and positively impact a smaller number of teams.
For that reason it was felt it was not appropriate to declare the season null and void, a decision other sports and some other hockey leagues have taken. It was also agreed that scheduling the outstanding matches in the league finals, play-offs and league at some time between the end of June and the beginning of the 2020-21 season, even though small in number, was not practical for reasons as outlined as follows:
It would not be possible for players’ eligibility to be based on the 2019-20 season when some players will be likely to move clubs and train with them in the summer and pre-season. Although planning for next season is on the basis it will go ahead as normal, this is not guaranteed and fixtures may need to be rescheduled. This would be further complicated if matches relating to 2019-20 also needed to be rescheduled and played before the league could restart. For most of the outstanding key League matches the outcome is only critical to one of the teams and the availability of the opposition might not be consistent with a fixture played on the scheduled date in terms of preparation and availability.
The make-up of Division 1 North & South and the three Conferences is determined by teams’ geographic locations. Fixtures and venues need to be planned well in advance of the season. Teams could not be easily slotted into the relevant Division after the completion of additional fixtures.
Another possible solution was to have no relegations from the Conferences, noting that, if passed, the proposed changes in ‘A Structure Fit for the Future’ relating to the governance of the sport would see the league increase in size from 60 to 70 teams in 2021-22 season. However this would see a number of teams, who would have been unable to avoid relegation had the season concluded normally, being reprieved and of course the decision on the ‘A Structure Fit for the Future’ proposal has itself not been able to be concluded due to the adjourned England Hockey AGM.
One more possible solution was, based on the final round of matches, promote all teams who could possibly be promoted and reprieve all teams who could possibly avoid relegation. However in solving some issues it would also create new issues - requiring additional subjective decisions, not based on existing regulations, to set some of the Divisions in 2020-21, increasing the number of teams impacted by not playing the final round of league matches as well as leading to an imbalance of promotion and relegation-avoiding opportunities for teams from parallel divisions.
East Grinstead vs Holcombe
Investec Women’s League
Premier Division Champions & 1st ranked European Club Championships – Surbiton
Runners-Up and 2nd ranked European Club Championships – East Grinstead
9th place and retain status – University of Birmingham
10th place and relegated – Bowdon Hightown
Division One North Champions & promoted – Swansea
9th place and retain status – Belper
10th place and relegated – Leeds
Division One South Champions & promoted – Wimbledon
9th place and reprieved relegation – Isca
10th place and relegated – St Albans
Conference East Champions & promoted – Wimbledon 2s
9th place and relegated – Broxbourne
10th place and relegated – Ipswich
Conference North Champions & promoted – University of Nottingham
9th place and reprieved relegation – Doncaster
10th place and relegated – Beeston 2s
Conference West Champions & promoted – Surbiton 2s
9th place and retain status – Team Bath Buccaneers
10th place and relegated – University of Bristol
You can see the final Investec Women's Hockey League standings here.
Surbiton's Alan Forsyth
Men’s Hockey League
Premier Division Champions & 1st ranked EuroHockey League – Surbiton
Runners-Up and 2nd ranked EuroHockey League – Hampstead & Westminster
9th place and retain status – University of Exeter
10th place and relegated – Reading
Division One North Champions & promoted – University of Durham
9th place and reprieved relegation – City of Peterborough
10th place and relegated – Leeds
Division One South Champions & promoted – Oxted
9th place and retain status – Teddington
10th place and relegated – Fareham
Conference East Champions & promoted – Cambridge City
9th place and retain status – Bromley & Beckenham
10th place and relegated – Bedford
Conference North Champions & promoted – Deeside Ramblers
9th place and relegated – Wakefield
10th place and relegated – Alderley Edge
Conference West Champions & promoted – Old Cranleighans
9th place and reprieved relegation – Cheltenham
10th place and relegated – University of Exeter 2s
You can see the final Men's Hockey League standings here.
Impact on planning for season 2020-21
The standard requirement on the conclusion of the league and any play-offs is to agree the geographic make-up of the Divisions 1 North & South and Conferences based on the teams at each level. This will now be undertaken. Planning for the 2020-21 season, in the first instance, is that it will run as normal. Currently the first rounds of matches are due to be held on 26 & 27 September 2020 however we will also start planning for different scenarios should that not be possible.
Regulations relating to promotion and relegation for 2020-21 season will be revised to reduce the size of the Premier Division to normal, maintain ten-team divisions at all other levels of the league for 2021-22 and to incorporate any changes in line with ‘A Structure Fit for the Future’ if agreed.
Hampstead vs Westminster vs Stourport
As part of the discussion process, England Hockey provided information on this matter to a small number of people. We are very disappointed in the breach of trust that has led to this information reaching the public domain earlier than intended. We are particularly unhappy that we did not have the chance to give the clubs affected by our decision the courtesy of a call before the information went public. Interested parties should also note that an article published elsewhere was not accurate and errors should be disregarded in favour of this official communication.
As noted this is not a straightforward situation for the league in unprecedented circumstances. In doing so decisions relating to promotion and relegation are based on what has happened in 85 out of 90 games in a Division, not what might happen in 5 out of 90 games.
England Hockey, whilst recognising that not all parties will agree with the rulings, believes it has followed a robust process to reach the most appropriate outcomes that means teams and leagues can start planning for a resumption of our great sport which we of course all hope will be later this year.
England Hockey Board Media release
Surbiton confirmed as English double champions for the 2019-20 season
Surbiton have been confirmed as both men’s and women’s English national champions following a decision by the England Hockey Board to confirm the outcomes of the 2019-20 season.
In a statement about the decision, England Hockey said: “As the league semi finals and final were unplayed, the champions of the league and qualification for European competition will be determined by the standings at the end of the regular season. This means that Surbiton are both men’s and women’s league champions.”
The women’s side won their seventh successive title as a result having secured top spot with three matches to spare following a run of 15 wins from 16 games, eventually taking 46 points out of a possible 54.
The men went one point better with 47 points in total, six points clear of Hampstead & Westminster who ended up in second. They scored an incredible 93 goals along the way with Luke Taylor the top scorer with 28 while Alan Forsyth netted the most field goals with 19.
It means they are the English champions for the third time in the past four years.
Both Surbiton teams qualified for this year’s EHL FINAL8 which is currently on hold with a possible new date later in 2020 being researched should the current COVID-19 pandemic allow.
In the Netherlands, the Hoofdklasse competitions have been voided. In terms of Europeam qualification, should the 2019/20 EHL season not be completed, FINAL8 qualifiers Bloemendaal and SV Kampong’s men and AH&BC Amsterdam and Den Bosch’s women will carry their place into the 2020/21 season.
If a third men’s ticket for the Netherlands is confirmed, Den Bosch will receive this spot based on their league position on March 8, the final date of league action played.
Should the current EHL season be completed, the KNHB will distribute tickets for the 2020/21 edition based on positions on March 8.
This would mean Bloemendaal, Den Bosch and HGC are in line for men’s spots with Den Bosch and SCHC set to get the women’s spots in that circumstance.
Euro Hockey League media release
England Hockey’s Premier Division set to field 11 teams next season
By Rod Gilmour
Surbiton will contest Europe after winning regular season PIC: Simon Parker
England Hockey is set to steer clear of a void season and ratify league proposals which would include moving to 11 teams in next season’s men’s and women’s Premier Divisions, The Hockey Paper understands.
Competitions panel recommendations put to an England Hockey board meeting today propose the 2019/20 season as closed, Surbiton men and women confirmed as champions and the ninth-placed teams in the two top flights – University of Birmingham women and University of Exeter men – to remain as Premier Division sides.
With no domestic hockey to be played before July, and the need to confirm fixtures for the 2020/21 season, it means that the league play-offs will not be contested and final placings will be when the season was halted.
It is understood that the two Division 1 North and South winners – the division leaders when the season halted – would be promoted to the Premier Division to make up the 11 teams.
This would see Swansea and Wimbledon start the 2020/21 season in the Women’s Premier Division, while for the first time Oxted and University of Durham will be confirmed as men’s Premier Division teams. The Premier Divisions are set to return to 10 teams for the 2021/22 season.
England Hockey, like other mainstream sports, has been faced with a series of complex and unprecedented scenarios to decide league outcomes following the coronavirus pandemic.
And EH is expected to acknowledge to clubs that “no solution is perfect” following the board’s expected ratification.
Six teams look set to be negatively impacted in relation to promotion and relegation in Division One and Conference. The league recommendations – one of which was to play the remaining league fixtures – mean that Bowdon men and Leicester City women, who both could have finished top of their respective divisions, would be left most hard done by.
In a battle of the top two, Bowdon men were due to play University of Durham on the final day in the Division One North. Meanwhile Leicester women were level on points with Swansea but regulations state the league is decided on games won, rather than on goal difference.
The Premier Division recommendations, seen by The Hockey Paper, also mean that one team is set to stave off relegation in both Division One and Conference.
As far as the final league placings in the elite top flight go, recommendations have also been put forward on standings to be judged on matches between the top four sides. This would mean: (Men: 1. Surbiton 2. Wimbledon 3. H&W 4. Old Georgians. Women: 1. Surbiton 2. East Grinstead 3. H&W 4. Buckingham). However, it is not known yet whether regular season placings or matches against each other will be the final outcome.
England Hockey will now set upon a fixtures list for 2020/21 and plan for a ‘normal’ season.
One of the options available if the sport is further impacted include teams playing every opponent once before the top and bottom half split and teams playing the other teams in their half once.
We understand EH is set to communicate its outcome later on Tuesday.
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The Hockey Paper
Swansea's Promotion ambition becomes reality
England Hockey have announced the final standings of the leagues and, we are delighted to announce that, Swansea HC have become the first Welsh club to achieve Premier Division status.
Swansea’s Head Coach, Gareth Terrett was delighted to receive the news,
“We are so pleased to have achieved a place in the Premier Division next season. The team have worked incredibly hard both on and off the pitch to reach this point. It has not just been about this season, but all the hard work that has gone on before and we have many people to thank inside the club both past and present.
“We had been at the top before the Christmas break, but Leicester came back at us hard. When we took top spot back in March after the win against the University of Durham we were in a great position to take the title, but shortly after the game all hockey was cancelled and we were unsure how the season was going to end.
“Having received confirmation of our place in the Premier Division, we can look forward to the time when we can get back on the pitch and begin the new season at the highest level.”
As the Welsh club looks forward to the new league for the 2020/21 season, Kevin Johnson, Head of Pathway for Hockey Wales assesses the news,
“Whilst my thoughts go out to everyone that is impacted negatively by decisions that are having to be made at this unprecedented time, I am of course delighted to see that all the hard work that has gone into Swansea Ladies Performance programme by the hockey club, Gareth, his staff and of course the playing squad, has been rewarded in this promotion to the Women’s Premier League for next season.
“As a Hockey Wales supported Performance Club, this will particularly benefit the ongoing development of those Welsh Players in our Pathway and Performance programmes who will now get the opportunity to play regularly and consistently at the top level of domestic hockey.”
England Hockey took the decision to maintain final placings as the leagues stood prior to the season being prematurely halted due to the current pandemic.
The statement read:
Teams’ standings when the league stopped will be their final standings. Existing promotion and relegation regulations will be applied based on these standings (subject to iii below (see link)), including promotion from Regional Leagues. In the Investec Women's Hockey League, Swansea and Wimbledon are promoted into the Premier Division, while Oxted and University of Durham enter the Men's Premier Division.
(full statement can be found HERE)
The decision resulted in Swansea’s promotion as they were in top spot of the Investec Women’s Hockey League, Division 1 North.
The Chief Executive of Hockey Wales, Ria Burrage-Male was delighted to hear Swansea’s news,
“This is such positive news to end what has been an incredibly tough season. Everyone at Hockey Wales and the wider hockey family are delighted for Swansea.
We look forward to watching their progression in the Premier Division next season and wish Gareth and the team all the very best.”
Hockey Wales media release
Amsterdam make two key signings for next season but say farewell to retiring Vega
Freeke Moes and Hester van der Veld will make the switch to AH&BC Amsterdam next season from Oranje-Rood and HDM, respectively.
In the Amsterdam press release, they praise Moes (21) for her characteristic fighting mentality, technical skills and speed.
“I am very happy with the arrival of Freeke,” said coach Robert Tigges. “Freeke is a complete player and can really add something to our team.”
According to Tigges, Moes should be seen as a natural replacement for striker Kelly Jonker, who stepped out after two games last season because she had become pregnant.
For 22-year-old Van der Veld, her tactical ability and smart passing ideas shone through.
“The arrival of Hester is a huge boost for our team; with the loss of a number of experienced members of our team, Hester is the ideal reinforcement.
“She has a bright future ahead of her and I am happy that we can contribute to this and also enjoy her qualities in the coming years,” said Tigges.
Both have already played for the Dutch international side.
On the flip side, Charlotte Vega has decided to retire from top hockey after 10 seasons at the elite level which included two European Cup titles with Amsterdam and a Hoofdklasse crown in 2019 as well as 21 Dutch international caps.
In her retirement announcement, she added it has been a career of blood, sweat and tears, going through the pain of cruciate ligament injuries and a dislocated shoulders as well as missing out on selection for major events.
“I am very grateful to hockey for what it has brought me. I look back with pride on a great hockey career and now is the time to hang my stick up. Thanks for all your support!”
Euro Hockey League media release
Scott Tupper – Canada’s captain fantastic
With over 300 international appearances in a career that has spanned some 15 years, Canadian captain and central defender Scott Tupper is one of the most well-respected figures in the sport and has certainly enjoyed plenty of wonderful moments during his time with the Red Caribous.
In 2007, a 20-year-old Tupper, then playing in midfield, was part of the Canada squad that stormed to the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beating Argentina in a dramatic penalty stroke competition after the title match finished with the scores locked at 2-2. If someone would have told him that over the next 13 years he would attend two Olympic Games, two World Cups, three Commonwealth Games as well as win silver at a further three Pan American Games and two Pan American Cups (not to mention becoming Canada’s captain and being named as Canada’s flag bearer at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru), he would have struggled to believe it. Following his team’s qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, now delayed by one year, there is at least one more mammoth competition yet to come.
A tireless, combative defender with a huge overhead pass and a mean penalty corner drag-flick, Tupper – who won Germany’s Bundesliga with Der Club an der Alster (Hamburg) in 2011 – remains a vital component in Canada’s armoury, a player capable of holding his nerve in the biggest of moments.
Away from his role with the Canadian team, Tupper is a member of the FIH Athletes’ Committee, a collection of current and former players who act as a liaison between the FIH and the Athletes to ensure that the latter has a voice in the FIH decision making process. Additionally, Tupper recently completed the online FIH Level 1 coaching course, ensuring that he has plans to remain very active in the game one his playing days have come to an end.
“The FIH coaching course was a great experience, especially during the quarantine time”, said Tupper, speaking off-camera. “The FIH Academy Educators, Bernardo Fernandes and Mike Irving, did a fantastic job facilitating it and created a real classroom feel despite having attendees tuning in from around the world. I want to coach when my playing days are done, so it was a great opportunity to put some time towards that and do some quality learning from home. I’d recommend the course to anyone who either coaches or is looking to start coaching in the future.”
Speaking to FIH from his home in Vancouver during the COVID-19 lockdown, Scott Tupper discusses his career to date and offers some great advice to young players aiming to make the most of their abilities.
Hi Scott, thanks for talking to us. You have enjoyed some wonderful times during your 15-year playing career with Canada. How do you reflect on these incredible moments?
Scott Tupper: “Fifteen years, it certainly sounds like a long time. It sounds maybe a little bit longer than it has felt! I’m just really thankful to have been able to be a part of the Canadian team for a good length of time, and to have a little bit of success as well. I’ve always cherished playing hockey for Canada, and I continue to do so. Mostly, I’m just really thankful and proud to be able to represent Canada and play hockey.”
Who or what first influenced you to pick up a stick and play hockey?
Scott Tupper: “I was first encouraged to pick up a stick and play hockey by a friend of mine, so no-one in my family – my parents or older sisters – played the game, but when I was six or seven years old, my close childhood friend Philip Wright actually got me into it, because his dad (Lee Wright) actually played for Canada at the Olympic Games (Tokyo 1964 and Montreal 1976). So, they invited me out to Vancouver Hawks, the club I grew up at, to train. Obviously, I enjoyed it and stuck with it throughout the years. Phil and I, and his older brother Anthony, we all ended up playing together on the national team, so it was really quite a cool thing but a little bit unique not having anyone else in the family playing the game.”
Who has been the biggest influence on your career and why?
Scott Tupper: “Like most athletes, I would say my parents, in terms of the encouragement throughout my youth and even now, to continue playing hockey and to continue enjoying it. Also, their support in terms of paying for equipment, helping to pay for trips and stuff like that – they’ve had a really big impact on me, and allowed me to continue to play hockey and do well.”
If there was one sentence to sum up your playing style or attitude on the pitch, what would it be?
Scott Tupper: “I would say, not very fast, average skills and really competitive! I would say that nobody is going to mistake me for the most technically or physically gifted guy, but maybe I’ve pieced it together a little bit with some competitiveness and a little bit of desire to win the game.”
What moment on the pitch are you most proud of and why?
Scott Tupper: “I’d say the moment on the pitch I feel most proud of would be going back to 2015 when our team effectively clinched our Rio [2016 Olympics] qualification at the World League [Semi-Final event] in Buenos Aires. That was a really great tournament for us, to beat a team like Spain [3-2] early in the tournament was a huge achievement for us, and then to have a little bit of a crazy game with New Zealand [in the competition quarter finals], where we tied 0-0 and then had a seemingly never-ending shoot-out [Canada won 7-8 after 14 attempts each], to come out on top there was something I was incredibly proud of. I’d been fortunate when I was younger, in 2008 and 2010, to play in the Olympics and then the World Cup, but then we missed out in 2012 [Olympics] and 2014 [World Cup]. Leading into Rio, I was captaining the team and one of the more senior guys, and I really wanted to help lead Canada back to major events, so to be able to do that with the guys, and have that achievement is certainly something I was proud of.”
What would be the best advice you could give to aspiring young hockey players?
Scott Tupper: “Watch as much hockey as you can. I think it is really important to see what the best players in the world are doing, so if you live in a place where you can go and watch games locally, get out and see some great hockey. If not, and you are like ourselves here in Canada where it is a little bit harder to find, get online. There is so much stuff you can seek out, make sure you are watching highlights from the [Dutch] Hoofdklasse or highlights from some of the big FIH tournaments. Hopefully that can translate into your game and help you out.”
What have you been doing to stay active and healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis?
Scott Tupper: “I’ve been trying to get outside as much as I can to do running and stuff like that. We are a little bit fortunate here in Vancouver, where we are surrounded by a lot of areas where there are forests and trails. You can still have some pretty effective fitness sessions, which is good. We are a little bit on our own for strength stuff, so just doing a lot of bodyweight exercises with push-ups and planks, lunges and all that sort of stuff, so keeping fit, and hopefully we’ll be in a good spot when we do get back to playing hockey.”
Profile*: Scott Tupper – Canada
Shirt number: 4
International appearances: 312
Place of birth: Vancouver (CAN)
Club: West Vancouver FHC (CAN)
You can follow Scott Tupper on Twitter using the @tups4 handle.
For more information about the FIH Academy online coaching courses, click here.
* Information correct as of 27 April 2020.
Why Zack Aura favours rotational system
By AGNES MAKHANDIA
Butali Sugar Warriors' Zack Aura (centre) tries to go pass USIU's Neville Mulupi (left) and Brayan Kiplimo (right) during their Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League match on September 15, 2019 at the City Park Stadium. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Coach Zack ‘Maestro’ Aura will employ a rotational system of play in Kenya Hockey Union men’s premier league matches.
The former Kenyan international took over the reins as coach of champions Butali Sugar Warriors early this year.
The former midfielder took over the job after coach Dennis Owoka resigned last December.
Aura says the move was to ensure every player in his rich squad gets chance to play and not to feel wasted in the team.
"It goes without saying that we have the best players in the league who have featured for the national team and ooze experience and exposure. And with such a squad, you tend to be spoilt for choice and you have got to get it right. I don’t want to wear out some players," said Aura, who was recently honoured during the annual Top 40 Under-40 Gala.
"Whereas the task ahead is tough, the best thing about it is that I have played with these players before and they know what I stand for. But at the end of it all, both the technical bench and the playing unit will engage each other along the way to ensure we retain the title."
All the other leagues (women’s premier, super leagues (men and women), as well as the national (men and women) leagues had kicked off in February, the men’s premier league matches were scheduled to start on March 21 before the government banned all sporting activities to control the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the top notch players at the club include Frank Wanangwe, Kenneth Nyongesa, Constant Wakhura, Linus Sang, Maxwell Fuchaka, George Mutira, Amos Barkibir, Calvin Otieno, Francis Kariuki, and Brian Musasia.
The 39-year-old Menengai High School alumnus said the national men’s team can return to winning ways if proper structures are put in place.
Kenyan men came fifth in the six-team round-robin African qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last year.
South Africa qualified to represent the continent in the Olympic Games that have been however postponed to next due to Covid-19 disease.
Kenyan men last competed in the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.
"We have good players in the country. The federation should work with primary schools to introduce the sport in the schools so that players can embrace the game at a young age. This is what teams that have continued to perform well like South Africa, Egypt have done," he said.
Lough in survival fight as 3G rears head in hockey once more
By The Hockey Paper
Louth Hockey club junior training PIC: David Dales
Louth Hockey Club is like many small clubs across the country – a long history, a thriving membership of players of all ages, a small dedicated band of volunteers who keep it running on a shoestring, and like many clubs of its size, it is facing a battle to survive because of a lack of financial support for a desperately-needed new pitch.
The club, which shares a community Astroturf pitch with football, has been around since 1955 and has a growing membership of players, aged 5 to 70. They regularly have up to 60 juniors training each week and run four senior teams each weekend. Over 80 of their 150 plus membership are under 18 – a section which has grown over the last two years.
Louth has been battling for nearly two years to ensure the 22-year surface is replaced with Astroturf, which can be used by all the community, and not a 3G pitch which is only suitable for football. No one is arguing that a 3G isn’t needed. In fact the local authority, East Lindsey District Council, has recognised this and ring-fenced funding for both projects. However, outside money is still needed to make the new Astroturf a reality.
Louth has pledged £10,000 of its own funds towards the project and has agreed, in principle, to take out a £50,000 interest free loan from the Council. In addition, the club has been exploring as many fundraising avenues as possible – donations, sponsored events and social nights have all helped. An application to the National Hockey Foundation has been made but it is unclear if they will support the bid.
Chairperson, Lesley Ward, said: “Without a new pitch the club would have little option but to fold. Although we aren’t the only group or sport that uses this vital facility, we are determined to make a new pitch a reality. This shows the level of determination at the club to make sure it has a future. We have been fighting for nearly two years to secure support and funding for the pitch.”
“Each week we have around 60 junior members, aged 5 -13, training and playing with us, and up to 50 senior players involved in league hockey every Saturday. Without a new pitch all this would cease – there is no alternative pitch we could use.”
Louth has worked hard to secure funding locally and nationally. Its efforts have brought some success. So far it has raised £6,300 from events and donations. However, more money is needed, as the project is expected to cost approximately £200,000.
Mrs Ward continued: “East Lindsey District Council has ring fenced £300,000 to go towards providing a replacement Astroturf and a new 3G football pitch, with £110,000 being earmarked for our pitch. However, this sum is dependent on the club securing outside funding.”
For Louth hockey players the loss of the pitch is unthinkable. The next nearest facility is 15 miles away and heavily used by another hockey club. There is nowhere else to go.
Each week around 150 players, aged 5 to 70, use the pitch two nights a week and on Saturdays. There are monthly-hosted junior tournaments, school hockey days and popular summer camps. The rest of the week the pitch is heavily used for football training and five-a-side leagues.
Although many of the hockey players come from Louth, many more travel in from outlying villages as the town has the only pitch in what is a very rural area. Having nowhere to train or play would undoubtedly spell the end of Louth Hockey Club, but more importantly the end of hockey for dozens of youngsters and adults alike.
Ward said she was confident that hockey will continue on the London Road site for the benefit of not only those playing at the moment, but more importantly for future generations to enjoy this wonderful sport.
Keep up to date with all the latest 3G in hockey news in print or digital
The Hockey Paper
No more working from car's boot for Sabah Hockey Association
By Jugjet Singh
FROM a home office and files kept in a car boot for years, Sabah Hockey Association (SHA) now have their own place to meet and plan bigger things for their players.
They started "dreaming bigger" after their youth teams returned with medals from the 2018 Malaysia Games.
The boys' team won the gold for the first time after beating Pahang while the girls' team took silver after finishing second to Selangor in the final.
Sabah-born Shello Silverius even captained the national junior team at last year's Sultan of Johor Cup.
"We used to be the whipping boys in the Malaysia Games, but we upset the formbook by winning the boys' competition and taking silver in the girls' event in 2018.
"Our proudest moment came when Shello was named the national junior captain for the SOJC last year," said Sabah HA president Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh.
SHA moved into their new office in January and also bought a bus to transport players, who mostly come from rural areas.
"Following the success of our girls' team in the Malaysia Games, we fielded them in the Malaysia Women's Hockey League for the very first time.
"Our team, comprising 16 Malaysia Games players, finished fifth in the six-team competition.
"It was a promising performance, considering that the other teams had national and foreign players," said Anil.
On the progress of their development players, he said: "We have at least five players each in the JHL (Junior Hockey League) boys' and girls' teams, who have the potential to go far.
"As for the younger players, we have hired former national junior coach Yahya Atan to scout and train players from rural schools. This project also looks promising," said Anil.
Their biggest problem is sparring partners. They have to travel across the South China Sea, incurring flight and accommodation expenses to play against teams in the peninsula.
"For peninsula teams, it is just a bus ride to play in tournaments but for Sabah (and Sarawak) the costs are much higher.
"But since there is no other way for our players to progress, we have to often raise funds to realise the dreams of our players to don national colours," he added.
New Straits Times