While several of our Associations are preparing to start competitions over the next few weeks, Otago Hockey is looking at a different approach to ensure a smooth return to community hockey happens in Dunedin.
During the lockdown, Otago Hockey got creative as they kept their community-engaged through a fitness challenge. The challenge also saw some of their hometown heroes Vantage Black Sticks Defenders Kane Russell and Blair Tarrant make a guest appearance.
Otago Hockey General Manager explained their different approach as well as some of the awesome things that have been happening in their Association.
Q – When will community hockey be returning in Otago?
A – We are planning a staggered start to our competitions. Our school competitions will commence throughout the week starting the 15th June while our lower grade club hockey starts on that Sunday the 21st.
Due to a range of factors such as the start of semester two at universities Our Premier and Division Two teams are playing some six aside preseason games on the 13th and 20th of June, an 11 per side preseason game on the 20th before full competitions start for them on 4 July.
Q – What went into your decision around when to return to the turf?
A – A couple of things, firstly giving clubs time to get themselves organised and members re-engaged before having an appropriate preseason on the turf. Otago is a student town and the changes to the way they are currently learning we needed to give clubs an opportunity to get their members who are students back into town for semester two.
Q – How has the return to training been going in your Association?
A – It has been great seeing people back out on the turf. Over the last week, we have had casual, club and school use. Its been exciting to see some association led sessions starting again for some of our performance players. After all of the uncertainty, it is magic to see activity around the facility.
Q – What are some of the challenges that you see for the upcoming season?
A – Obviously complying with everything that needs to be in place for health and safety is a significant extra layer of work. Outside of that, we know that lots of people and families within our communities are having challenging times. That combined with the chance that peoples habits and priorities may have changed means that we need to be really careful to make sure that our sport is still both accessible and what our membership wants.
Q – What are some of the opportunities that the situation has provided to your Association?
A – It has provided a really good opportunity to take stock of everything we do and how we operate. I think a number of changes that have been forced on us have led to some positive learnings. As one example we have taken the opportunity to change our year 7 & 8 hockey to 6 per side.
Community hockey can start from the 6th June, make sure you check with your local Association for when you are going to be back on the turf.