By Richard Bright
No spitting, an avoidance of shouting, chewing gum bans and no contact during celebrations are some of the edicts put in place for hockey’s return to the English recreational indoor and outdoor game.
It follows “special permission” given to England Hockey by the government to move from Step 2 to Step 4 in its Return to Play roadmap.
The green light has thus been given for intra club and local matches to commence although current restrictions mean that leagues and main competitions are still unable to resume.
A thorough 26-page guidance issued by EH looked at the risks of coronavirus transmission via airborne droplets and through touching surfaces for players, clubs and coaches to now adhere to.
“The risks during competitive hockey are low, but special permission has been given to resume hockey by government, so we expect all players to understand their responsibilities clearly and adapt their behaviours accordingly,” said England Hockey.
As far as returning to the pitch goes, eager players have been told “if possible” to “avoid shouting or raising their voices when facing each other during, before and after games. This will be included within England Hockey’s code of behaviour.
“Participants will be encouraged to refrain from spitting or rinsing out their mouths on or around the playing area. Chewing gum should be banned.”
Meanwhile, players are encouraged to take prompt PCs and free hits around the D and not to touch the ball with their hands.
A maximum of 30 people “are allowed in one group but more than one group can use a pitch as long as social distancing can be maintained outside of training.”
Any movement to Step 5 – a full return to play – will not require permission from government and instead will be determined by England Hockey “on the readiness of clubs to resume full competitive hockey.”
While the latest news will be heartily welcomed by hundreds of players in England looking at pre-season training, many clubs have yet to be able to train due to pitches located in restricted areas due to the pandemic.
“England Hockey is also acutely aware that not all hockey players or organisations are currently in a position to play, with access to pitches in particular a significant challenge. Moving to Step 5 (the resumption of league hockey) will therefore be assessed over the coming weeks, ensuring that the decision to start the season can be made when there is enough confidence that clubs are sufficiently ready to start,” the national governing body added.
“We continue to recommend planning for a normal start date for the season and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
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