Port Lincoln hockey to proceed with nine-a-side

HOCKEY: Wanderers' Tanisha Kilpatrick and Flinders' Tahlia Weir in action during the 2019 Port Lincoln hockey season.
HOCKEY: Wanderers' Tanisha Kilpatrick and Flinders' Tahlia Weir in action during the 2019 Port Lincoln hockey season.

Port Lincoln Hockey Association will proceed with its season next month under a modified competition, which has been dubbed 'COVID-9-a-side'.

The association held a meeting on Monday evening to discuss the season and agree to a set of guidelines for training until June 8, when further easing of restrictions is expected.

The decision was made to form a nine-a-side competition that would begin on the weekend of June 12-13.

Hockey association director of development Matt Waller said play would be restricted to 20 people per field, which allowed for nine-a-side with an umpire.

He said hockey was not special in facing an uncomfortable and unusual situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a matter of maintaining the care of players and everyone involved.

"It's about every code identifying how they can maintain a duty of care and provide a safe environment for their players," he said.

"Being a non-contact sport with an isolated ball...it gives us the confidence to go ahead with a duty of care.

"By proceeding with nine-a-side it will fit with social distancing guidelines."

Training for teams will resume from next week under COVID-19 guidelines passed on by Hockey SA.

Under Level B restrictions under the Australian Institute of Sport's framework for a return to sport under COVID-19, only non-contact training drills of no more than 10 people is allowed, including players and staff.

The four Port Lincoln hockey clubs will nominate their nine-a-side teams, and are able to nominate more teams other than their usual men's and women's teams (A and B grade, and juniors) if enough people were involved.

Mr Waller also said anyone not playing sport this winter was invited to give hockey a go, and could contact a club or the association to join a team or to put a new one together.

"We'd be more than accommodating to new players...we provide a family oriented environment," he said.

"Players of all or no skill levels are welcome."

Mr Waller said the current training restrictions would help keep people safe while getting fit for the season.

Visit the association's Facebook page for more information.