The Ulster Hockey Board met last week and we wanted to communicate to all the Ulster Hockey Family what the immediate plans are during the suspension, dictated by the current COVID 19 challenging situation. Obviously the suspension will continue for an indefinite period and we will be liaising with Hockey Ireland on the extension to the current date of 29th March 2020.
Firstly, the President Terry Templeton, Vice President Rosie Rea, Executive Manager Marc Scott and all the Board and Staff would sincerely thank all Clubs, Schools, Sponsors, Umpires, Supporters and the youngest to the oldest Member for your understanding during this very difficult scenario. Especially those Clubs with premises that have to close their doors, meaning Club Staff and their families are hugely impacted. Hopefully the relevant agencies can provide some support for those affected.
Most importantly, please note all Ulster Hockey Staff will be working from home as of today Monday 23rd March. Marc Scott has agreed work package plans with each of the Staff and they will be liaising remotely.
Contact information for all Staff will be published on the website. During this most likely prolonged period of no hockey, the Staff may use our website and social media platforms to share some interesting activities/initiatives. Please get involved, support and enjoy these fun posts. We particularly wish our own Staff Member Shirley McCay and her Ulster/Irish teammates, the very best as they continue their Tokyo 2020 Olympic training under totally unheard-of limitations.
The Staff and Board met together recently to start our strategic planning process. The Standing Committees and Staff are working on some challenging issues such as the shortage of umpires and the decline in men’s hockey (recently the Competitions Committee surveyed the men’s Clubs on possible league structure options). This period is an excellent opportunity to explore some ways to focus on these challenging issues, further enhance youth hockey, encourage retention and more participation in the sport we love.
The Board and key Committees will continue to meet using remote conferencing and together will be working with the Staff, Sport NI and the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, we will be compiling our contingency plans to mitigate the possible loss of significant revenue over the next months (e.g. Cup Finals, Easter Coaching Camps). Our AGM, Incorporation to Company status and attaining Charity status plans, may all be delayed, however we will continue to drive forwards with our objectives and get back on track as soon as practicable.
We keenly await Hockey Ireland’s thoughts and proposed approach regarding this season’s local and all Ireland League/Cup Competitions, in the event of a very lengthy suspension.
Lastly we will be thinking about our charity partnership with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice during this very difficult period and seeing ways we can help.
Please stay fit and safe
Chair Ulster Hockey