By Richard Bright
Recreational team sports in England can begin returning outdoors, under government guidance published on Thursday – although a “complex” set of issues remain for hockey to safely resume.
Under new lockdown easing rules, England Hockey will now submit to the Government an action plan and related guidance, demonstrating how it plans to operate, and any adaptations which will be required, before any green light can be given to the sport.
The fact that recreational cricket can return from this weekend will help multi-sport clubs financially, while those hockey clubs connected with centres including indoor gyms and sports halls will also be boosted from July 25.
England Hockey said on Thursday that it is exploring a route to move from Steps 3 to 5 of its five-stage programme for a return to hockey.
The national governing body announced three requirements for this to happen: compliance, capability and confidence.
EH said it would work with government officials to provide criteria for any resumption “with a reduced requirement for social distancing within games.”
A statement read: “This is a complex issue where many clubs and stakeholders will need to have access to sufficient facility provision and be in a position to be able to support any of the adaptations to ‘normal’ that are required.
“Beyond that organisations will need to be able to function well enough with viable financial models to operate within the new structure.”
Under a “confidence” framework, EH would also be seeking a “level of assurance that our participants and volunteers feel in hockey resuming.”
England Hockey said that there were “no exact timings” for the next steps.
A statement added: “Whilst we are working through these measures we will continue to plan for alternative scenarios with plans for revised and shortened seasons being finalised as well as recommended adapted regulations and practices. A draft set of recommendations will shortly be sent to key organisations at regional and county level for consideration.
“We continue to recommend to clubs to plan for the season starting at the normal time, whilst trying to mitigate any financial risks of doing so wherever possible.”