The International Hockey Federation, FIH has issued details guidelines for resumption of competitions but ruled out complete normalcy before a vaccine is developed for the novel coronavirus.
Accepting that these are very early days for a return to action, the FIH in its guidelines has produced a five-stage process to show the route back to something resembling normality.
This starts, as has been seen in the Netherlands and Belgium, with a return to carefully managed training with social distancing measures. The next stage will be a resumption of regional competitions, followed by local travel between neighbouring nations. Next stage will have trans-continental competition and finally when a vaccine is in place, the FIH is hopeful there will be a return to normal competition.
Within its Health and Safety Guidelines, FIH has included a risk assessment. A doctor of sports medicine at Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Sean Carmody has produced the risk assessment programme. Prior to resuming any activity, all hockey organisations are advised to carry out an assessment based on Dr Carmody’s risk assessment chart.
Even before any return to activity can be considered, facilities must be assessed, states the FIH note. To ensure a safe environment, the venue or facility is likely to require a deep clean; watering systems may need to be flushed; and, through accessible information and signage, social distancing restrictions must be made clear to anyone visiting or using the facility.
The guidelines are aligned to those issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The cover the entire hockey workforce – athletes, coaches, officials, staff, administrators and volunteers.
With the progression of the virus at different stages across the globe, the guidelines should be used by Continental Federations, National Associations and clubs, alongside local laws and policies, providing their own bespoke guidelines for hockey providers within their area.
FIH has fixed no time scale for these stages to be reached and it will vary from country to country.
However, there is a doubt that future events will look very different for the foreseeable future. When competition does resume, organisers will need to be hugely conscious of safety measures that will need to be implemented, in order to keep the hockey workforce and the fans safe. These measures are highlighted in the document.
Encapsulating a sentiment that has been expressed across the international hockey community, Australia’s Stephanie Kershaw, urged people to “Stay safe and train responsibly.”
The FIH has also issued a Facility Guidance Resources programme for all its affiliates.