I hope this finds you all well, although I appreciate that some of you will no doubt already been affected by COVID19, either because of the need to self-isolate and/or work and study interruptions.
OCHC has been monitoring the evolving situation carefully and taking advice from medical professionals as to the best way to proceed.
Last night Hockey ACT indicated that, at this stage, the senior competition will commence on Friday 27 March 2020. This is of course dependent upon the clubs being willing, and having sufficient numbers, to participate. Hockey ACT’s CEO, Robert Sheekey, indicated that there would be considerable flexibility with respect to the fees imposed on clubs, as there remained a possibility that the competition would have to be adjourned at some stage if the COVID19 situation in the ACT deteriorated further.
Hockey ACT is of the view that there was a real risk of losing the entire season if we do not secure registrations and at least make a start on the season.
Hockey ACT said that it is acting on advice from the Minister for Youth and Sport and has implemented several measures it says reduce the risk of infection and transference. Those measures are available on the Hockey ACT website. Hockey ACT has said that it will continue to monitor the situation.
OCHC advised Hockey ACT that our committee’s preference was for a delayed start to the season given the current uncertainty as to how the situation might evolve over the coming days and weeks. We also indicated that our registrations were well down, which we felt was due to uncertainty in the community about the health risks associated with playing and uncertainty about whether the season would go ahead and, if it did, how long it would be able to continue for.
With the decision having now been made to press on with the season for the time being, OCHC needs to quickly assess how many of our members intend to play on the weekend commencing 27 March 2020.
If you intend to play this season and are prepared to play on the weekend commencing 27 March 2020 you need to register by Sunday 22 March 2020. The committee will meet again on Monday to review the situation and viability of entering teams.
Hockey ACT has indicated that it will waive forfeiture fees for teams that enter the competition but ultimately have to withdraw.
If we do not enter a team in a particular grade at this stage, and the competition does start on 27 March 2020, we will have to assume that teams will not be able to join the competition at a later date in 2020.
Whilst Hockey ACT has indicated that there will be flexibility in respect of fees, they have not as yet provided any details in this regard and so players should assume they are committing to the full season. That said, I would anticipate that as a minimum, Hockey ACT would only bill us for games played (at least in a proportional sense).
Your committee has been working very hard grappling with this complex issue and Dr Kate McCallum in particular has proved an invaluable source of information for both OCHC and the broader hockey community – thank you Kate!
We are constantly monitoring the situation and will keep you informed as best we can. Whilst we will continue to seek information from Hockey ACT and other peak bodies, we feel that it is incumbent upon us to independently make decisions that are in the best interests of our members and in this regard welcome any feedback or information our members may wish to pass on.
While player retention, cost and logistics are important factors in deciding whether to proceed with and/or delay the season, the health and wellbeing of our members is our overriding concern. We are also very conscious of the need for OCHC to play its part as a member of the community and to do what we can to ‘flatten the curve’.
I encourage you all to reach out to, and to look after, one another. Old Canberrans Hockey Club has a tradition of looking after both its members and the broader community, and current circumstances provide an opportunity for that sense of mateship and community spirit to be on full display.
Stay safe and talk soon.