First and foremost I hope you, your family and friends are well during this extremely difficult period. We are in the midst of unprecedented times and I wanted to write to all hockey clubs and associations to update you on England Hockey’s joint response to Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
Firstly, you will have seen that we have now suspended all hockey activity through until 30 June 2020. We felt this was the best course of action as it gives hockey clubs, players and volunteers clarity regarding the next few weeks and months. Having made this decision, we now have more to work through with regards how best to complete a number of our domestic competitions. We will take a recommendation to the board this month and will be in touch with clubs again as soon as we can. Rest assured we will of course be as equitable as possible.
With regards to next season, obviously the situation is still unclear and will not be resolved for some time. We will continue to review options as things progress if we feel next season will be affected by Covid-19, and there may need to be alternative ways of playing. These are extraordinary circumstances for all of us and your understanding is appreciated.
We are very conscious that these are difficult times for many clubs and associations, with recurring costs but no revenue. Our local Relationship Managers are working as normal at this time and are there to support you in any way they can. They can also help with information regarding Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund. This new fund aims to help community sport and physical activity organisations who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing crisis. There are clear criteria to access financial help and I am very hopeful that this will be a lifeline for clubs who are most at risk.
While our clubs are on hiatus, Sport England have asked that we support their important #StayInWorkOut campaign to keep everyone as active as possible. A number of you and your clubs have already got involved and it is great to see hockey as a sport responding so positively in these challenging times. Please do take a moment to read more at www.sportengland.org/stayinworkout
As you know we had to postpone the England Hockey AGM on Tue 17 March. Of course there was a hugely important resolution on the agenda regarding how the sport is set up in this country, and we will be communicating shortly about the next steps on this and the AGM.
At international level, a significant number of your members from hockey clubs around the country had already purchased tickets to Great Britain’s FIH Hockey Pro League games in May and June of this year. The FIH has currently postponed the FIH Pro League until 17 May 2020 and we have contacted ticket purchasers directly for the first two weekends of home matches we were due to be hosting. As soon as the longer-term picture is known we will be in touch.
With regards to England Hockey’s future, we can reassure our members that we are in a good financial position. We have support from both UK Sport and Sport England that will help us manage any immediate risks, and in addition we have adequate reserves that can be accessed if the situation requires. In the interim we have reduced our costs, realigned our priorities and are looking at a number of strategic pieces of work, including but not limited to our club support offer, facilities strategy, events planning, health & safety in the sport and more besides.
Since starting in November, I have been incredibly impressed with the continued passion and spirit I see for our great game across the country; and I count myself fortunate to be one of its custodians. Clubs and associations are the most important part of our sport, and having you open for business again soon is vital to us. We are here to serve and support you in any way we can and I have no doubt that when hockey returns, we will all be reminded of just how much we love this great game and the energy it brings to all of our lives.