To the Hockey Northland Community, we trust you and your families are safe during this time, we wanted to bring you an update on where things are at for Hockey specifically. As with everything else currently, life is an ever-moving set of goal posts, but we believe that some of the information contained below will provide a little clarity.
As you are aware, all hockey in New Zealand is currently suspended until 2 May 2020, and you may well have read that all national rep tournaments for 2020 have been cancelled.
Under the current Level 4, we will be in lockdown isolation until at least 23 April 2020. At this point we don’t know when we will actually be allowed to return to hockey, or what restrictions and challenges we will have to face under the different levels.
We have read announcements from other sports on proposed new dates when their competitions may start etc. In our opinion these are pure guesses without much foundation. Hockey New Zealand has taken a different path on this. They have prepared a document that outlines what each of the alert levels mean to hockey specifically, this document is quite in depth and is yet to be signed off but HNZ’s has been sent to various government officials for confirmation of their assessment. The reason we believe that this will be such an important document, going forward, is there is a lot of belief that different parts of the country may be in and out of different levels at different times. As a sport we will have a guiding document of what we can and can’t do in the way of hockey in Northland.
Hockey throughout the country is working closely together, the 32 Hockey Associations and Hockey NZ have a weekly conference call, during which we collectively discuss issues relating to the current situation, as well as a return to hockey and a sustainable future of our sport. Many of those things are naturally an unknown at this stage, however that forum is where the decision was made that the most important part of sustainability for the future of Hockey is to focus on grassroots community hockey for 2020, rather than representative hockey.
Some information that we can share with you, our hockey community is;
- As already mentioned, Hockey NZ and all other Associations have agreed that community hockey will be the first priority when we are allowed to return to playing. This means that we will be looking to create as much opportunity for as many people as possible to play hockey this year.
- There is still uncertainty around restrictions at the various emergency Levels, but we are working with Hockey NZ and other Associations to make sure we stay safe and offer our community the best opportunities to get back on the turf when allowed.
- Although national rep tournaments have been cancelled for 2020, we have already started to build development plans and opportunities for development of players at various age groups and are having discussions with neighbouring Associations on how we can add value to each other’s communities in this area.
- Hockey NZ National Tournaments are cancelled for 2020 and a decision on Secondary Schools tournaments and Aims Games is expected in early May.
- The Hockey Northland staff are working on many exciting projects which will allow us to be an even better organisation when we come out of lock-down than before we entered it. Look out for even more social media exposure, increased community communication opportunities and increased coaching tools and resources.
- There is a serious financial risk for us. Not only have we lost our revenue from normal hockey activities so far for the winter season, but community grant funding has come to a virtual halt. This will be felt in the short to medium term at all levels. While we have reserves in place the unknown may place significant pressure on these reserves. We must thank our current and previous Board’s for growing these reserves.
- We have been successful in obtaining the Governments wage subsidy which is naturally a big help for the initial 12 weeks. There is also talk of other subsidies being available for sporting organisations in the near future and so along with our strong financial management of the organisation we will naturally continue to seek any further opportunities for funding
We as an organisation value all the benefits that come from playing sport in particular playing hockey, and we miss the hockey as much if not more than anyone in the hockey community. We know how much everyone is looking forward to getting back on the turf. None of us know exactly when that will be or what it will look like, rest assured when it is safe to do so we will have hockey opportunities ready to go. Hockey in 2020 will most probably not follow the same formats as it has in the past, we are determined to offer hockey in whatever form is most suitable for the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in.
Covid-19 and the current lockdown have already had a significant impact on all of us and will continue for some time. In the meantime, we really appreciate everyone playing their part in breaking the chain, staying home and doing what we can to get our community through this crisis. We want to thank all in our hockey community who continue to work in essential services to help support the whole country through this.
We will keep you updated with any firm information regarding the future of hockey as it comes to hand.
Grant McLeod (Hockey Northland CEO)