Despite the global carnage and shutdown of sports due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) has remained undeterred and proactive in their handling of the national teams and athletes.
The 592 Dugout had an exclusive interview with the GHB President, Philip Fernandes, who revealed how his administration has been handling the respective national teams and the plans for the resumption of the sport after Covid.
Fernandes pointed out; “This is indeed a difficult time, especially for team sports. On the good side for hockey, it is an open-air sport and so this is not as risky as playing in enclosed and confined spaces. During our sport however, players occasionally come into contact with each other and in certain areas, like the goal area, there are sometimes quite a few players in close proximity to each other”.
To that end, the GHB revealed; “As a result of these risks, and the recommendations of the WHO and the local authorities, we have suspended all training and activities in hockey. This will remain in place until the authorities permit such activities again and if it is determined at that time to be safe enough to resume”.
“Our national teams have remained in contact virtually and both the men and women have physical programs and skill challenges that they have been following during this time. Daily physical training exercises are circulated with each athlete performing them at his or her time on that given day in their own private space. Our aim is to try to ensure our athletes stay fit so that when national training resumes, the focus could be purely on tactical elements while the physical training would just be maintenance work”.
Quizzed about possible rule changes upon resumption of hockey in Guyana, Fernandes noted; “I do not expect there to be rule changes on the playing field as it is hoped that some measure of control will soon be achieved. This might be a vaccine or cure, which would remove the need for any rule changes. I do believe however that there will be changes prior to and after each game where the use of dressing rooms and washroom areas are concerned and also the use of drinking fountains or other sources of drinking water”.
With an eye on the future after the rescheduling of all Pan American Hockey Federation tournaments, Fernandes expressed optimism on fielding teams at those postponed tournaments; “The very next competition date on their calendar so far is the Junior Pan American Championships in Chile which was originally scheduled for November this year, and is now set for April 2021. Guyana is hoping to send its Under-21 boys team to this event. The PAHF Challenge which was originally scheduled for July in Peru has been postponed also but no new dates have been announced as yet. Guyana is hoping to send both a male and female senior team to this event”.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has issued guidelines which are regularly updated as the days go by, however, according to Fernandes, the FIH also indicated that the local regulations should always supersede any external recommendations.
Some of the regulations laid out by the FIH include; “Players are not allowed to take the field more than 10 minutes in advance of training. All hands must be washed and temperatures checked. Players are not allowed to touch the hockey balls or training props with bare hands and also no high fives or other voluntary physical contact. Training is restricted to technical skills which each player can execute while maintaining distance from each other and no exercises where tackling or any physical engagement between two players are done”.
In concluding, the GHB head honcho stated; “These are the steps that we will follow whenever we determine it is safe enough to resume. I expect the national teams to resume at the earliest possible time and the clubs to follow suit shortly afterward”.