SEVEN-UP! Match action from Spalding 4th’s impressive 7-0 win over rivals Wisbech 4th. Photo by NIGEL COOKSON

England Hockey confirms suspension of East League ahead of Thursday’s lockdown

South Holland duo Spalding Hockey Club and Long Sutton Hockey Club are to take an enforced and immediate month-long break from action.

That’s after England Hockey announced that all activity within the sport will be suspended in line with the national lockdown in England, which is due to start today (Thursday).

With hockey usually having a month-long winter break either side of Christmas, the timing of the lockdown is far from ideal.

The England Hockey statement is as follows: “England Hockey are disappointed to have to confirm that the national lockdown announced on Saturday will mean no club or community hockey from November 5 until after December 4 at the earliest.

“The latest government announcement orders all sports facilities to close and therefore club and other community hockey activity is suspended until the game is in a position to resume.

“Over the last few months all those involved in delivering hockey safely have helped to prove that the sport is extremely low risk in terms of the transmission of Covid and this gives us confidence that we can be back soon.

“We are very grateful to all the Covid officers, volunteers, players, coaches and officials that went the extra mile to provide a safe place for hockey to be played.

“At England Hockey we continue to receive overwhelming feedback from participants that the physical and mental health benefits of being able to take part are significant.

“We recognise that the next few weeks will be challenging for those like us that love the game and will miss the opportunity to be out playing, coaching and officiating with friends.

“The government announcement made reference to returning to the Covid Alert Levels after the end of this period of lockdown, and should that be the case we are confident that clubs will be able to resume promptly in line with our previously-issued Return to Play guidance.

“If it becomes clearer in time that the lockdown will end on December 4 we encourage clubs to consider resuming some activity before Christmas if at all possible.

“To mitigate the risk of changes and with the uncertainty about what Level the club may be in at the end of this period, we recommend that the time until Christmas is used for training and very local matches.

“The aim of this is to ensure that activities fall in line with any Level-based restrictions that may be in place. It will take time to determine the best approach to reorganising activity and we ask that players and clubs respect the need for organisers to consider the next steps properly in light of the timing and extent of the upcoming break.

“England Hockey will communicate with all clubs, England Hockey League teams and EH Championships entrants as well as Player Pathway organisers in the coming days.”

The East Hockey League – which houses Spalding and Sutton – added the following brief statement: “England Hockey have announced that all League Hockey shall be suspended until December 4 at the earliest.

“The East League Management have immediately got worries about availability of pitch facilities that are not owned by clubs being available before Christmas and we will work with a parties to ensure as easier path back to play as possible.”

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