National U18 Schools Hockey Premier League


Following feedback from the Junior Competitions Review earlier in 2011 England Hockey proposes that for the 2012-13 season a midweek National U18 Schools Hockey Premier League (NSHPL) will run for both boys and girls schools as a pilot scheme. If this is successful it will continue for subsequent seasons and with a view to it extending to the U16 age group.

The purpose of the NSHPL is to provide schools with a high level of regular, full length, fixtures in a competitive framework.

The NSHPL will run over both the autumn and spring terms and will be managed by the England Hockey Competitions & Events Department. A NSHPL Management Group will be formed to ensure schools have the opportunity to influence the running, management and regulations of the NSHPL

This paper gives details of the proposed league. Schools can express their interest in participating and comment on the proposals using our on-line survey, see link at foot of this story.

Entry into the NSHPL

Entry into the NSHPL will be open to single Schools who are members of the England Hockey Schools Membership scheme

It is envisaged that the standard of the NSHPL will be at a high level and to ensure that teams who participate in the NSHPL are of the required level the initial entry criteria will be for schools who have reached the final of their Schools County Round at U16 or U18 level in the past three seasons. Teams who do not meet this criteria may still apply to enter and will be accepted into the NSHPL if it is agreed by the NSHPL Management Group and if overall entry levels permit in terms of space. 

The U18 National Schools Championships will continue in its existing format. Schools who enter the NSHPL will also be eligible to enter the U18 National Schools Championships, however it is proposed that their elective first XI squad of 15 (14 outfield players and 1 GK) may only play in the NSHPL competition and not in the National Schools Championships to avoid fixture congestion and the over-playing of players.

There will be an entry fee to participate in the league. This will cover the following costs

- Online management of NSHPL

- Contribution to staff time for the administration and promotion of the NSHPL

- Costs of staging the finals of the event – including umpires, officials, medical cover, medals & trophies and venue hire

It is envisaged the cost of this will be approximately £150 - £250 per team. Sponsorship of the NSHPL will be sought to endeavour to reduce the cost to schools.

For all games prior to the final the home school in any fixture will be responsible for all the staging costs , eg pitch hire, umpires expenses, post match hospitality.

Player eligibility

To be eligible to participate for a school in the NSHPL in 2012-13 players must be on the school roll on the 1 September 2012 and at any time of participation. (save point 4 below)

Players shall not represent more than one age group for that School in any England Hockey competition in any one Season.

Any player in the school’s elective first XI squad (see above) who participates in a match in the National Schools Championships will subsequently be ineligible to participate in the NSHPL.

It is proposed that in any match in the NSHPL schools can field a maximum of two players who only have a passport for a country other than United Kingdom. Any players in this category must have been on the school roll on 30 September 2011 (ie in the year preceding the competition)

Structure of the NSHPL - Regional

Teams will be split geographically and it is anticipated that this will be on similar lines to the England Hockey NSHPL Conferences with three Regional Conferences – Midlands & North, South & East, South & West. Teams will not necessarily play in their existing “hockey region” and the overall formation of the Regional Conferences will be the responsibility of the NSHPL Management Group and will depend upon the geographic spread of entrants. 

A fixture list will be drawn up for the league and participating schools will have a responsibility to arrange the date, time and venue for all matches - these must be 35 mins each way and scheduled on midweek dates. It is anticipated that existing inter school matches will form fixtures within the league hence the proposal not to fix fixtures and dates centrally.

Home teams will be responsible for sourcing local umpires from their local Hockey Umpires Association.

It is planned that the maximum number of fixtures played in the Conference stage of the competition will be 10. This could be achieved by a league of 11 teams playing each other once either home or away or a league of 6 teams playing each other twice, home and away. The final formats of the Conferences will be set once details of all entrants are known.

Depending on entry levels it is possible that more than one parallel division will be established in any one Conference to cater for schools wishing to participate. If this occurs then additional one off play-off games will be scheduled to ensure the requisite number of qualifiers from that Conference to the final stages (see below).      

Final stages of the NSHPL - National

The two Conferences with the highest number of participants will each have three qualifiers for the quarter finals, the other Conference will have two qualifiers. Teams will be drawn to play in the quarter finals with Conference winners and the second placed team with the best playing record having home draws. The winners of the quarter finals will progress to the semi finals which will be drawn with teams either home or away. The two semi final winners will participate in the NSHPL final at a neutral venue. The Boys and Girls finals will be played together.

Relevant Regional HUAs will be asked to appoint umpires to the quarter and semi finals and the NPUA will appoint to the final.

Proposed calendar for NSHPL

All matches in the Regional Conferences must be scheduled on midweek dates. All teams must schedule more than half of their fixtures in the Autumn term. This is to reduce fixture congestion in the Easter term when schools will also participate in indoors and the final stages of the competition will be completed. It also recognises the varied dates for Easter holidays and a desire to complete the competition during the Easter term.   

In 2012-13 it is proposed that fixtures in the Regional Conferences must be completed by Friday 22 February.

The Quarter Finals will be played during the week beginning 4 March

The Semi Finals will be played during the week beginning 11 March

The Final will be played during the week beginning 18 March

Expressions of interest and entry

Schools wishing to express an interest in entering the NSHPL should complete the on-line questionnaire by 1 January 2012.  (See foot of this story). In addition this asks for views on the proposed NSHPL format; details of existing inter school fixture lists; term times in 2012-13; honours in past three years; expression of interest in joining the NSHPL Management Group and an opportunity to raise any queries that you might have. This is not the final entry form.  

Proposed next stages

By 01 February – NSHPL Management Group formed

By 22 February - Final agreed details of the NSHPL plus entry form circulated to all parties

By 15 March – Entry deadline to NSHPL

By 01 May - Details of format of NSHPL Conferences & all joining details circulated to participating teams

Schools who do not wish to participate

We are interested in feedback from schools who do not wish to participate and would be grateful if you could complete the questionnaire in respect of this if appropriate. 

NSHPL Management Group

A NSHPL Management Group will be formed for the NSPHL during its pilot phase and if the NSHPL was continued it is envisaged this Group would continue too. The Group will include representatives of participating schools, England Hockey C&E department and England Hockey Performance team. The purpose of the Group is:

- to allow participating schools to be represented to influence the running / management and regulations of the NSHPL.

- to act as the decision making body for penalties where schools breach the regulations or where a dispute between parties requires resolution.

- to provide support to the strategic intent that the England Hockey NSHPL is seen as the flagship U18 schools competition and to support England Hockey in raising the profile of, and commercial opportunities for, the NSHPL.

- to champion the role of schools which play in the NSHPL in supporting aspiring international players with appropriate coaching, competition and lifestyle management.

It is anticipated that the Group would meet twice during the season, possibly more in the setting-up phase, with on-going issues dealt with electronically.

Link to on-line questionnaire -

To view a PDF version of the survey so you can consider the questions prior to completing the on-line survey please click here.

Please note: we will only use feedback submitted via the on-line survey.