At the last England Hockey AGM in September 2020 the membership of England Hockey resoundingly voted in favour of the proposed structural changes set out in A Structure Fit for the Future. This set in motion the most significant changes to local hockey for our 800 clubs and many associations for generations and tasked England Hockey with leading the process.
Since September a huge amount of work has been done supported by over 250 volunteers on various working groups, locally and nationally, to guide the development of the proposals. The nature of the changes required has meant different starting points and activities required according to the current structures in place. Thanks to the work undertaken in the Areas there is now increasing alignment in approach and sufficient commonality for national meetings to happen ensuring a consistency of approach is agreed.
Whilst Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the season for clubs it has also allowed some volunteers from associations and clubs to invest more time that might have otherwise been possible. This has helped to deliver against the timeline and gives confidence that the September 2021 start date for implementation is on track. Clubs need to be aware that some processes for entering competitions and receiving information will be different next season and should look out for updates from England Hockey and their new organisations on this.
The England Hockey AGM on the 16 March forms the next key stage of the process where the updated England Hockey Articles of Association being put before the membership will formally kick off the governance changes that start the transition to the new structure including the establishment of the new Areas and the adoption of the responsibilities for organisations as set out in the proposals. This transition period is critical for the changes to progress as smoothly as possible.
The new organisations will hold inaugural meetings later in the spring to which clubs will be invited. As these are mostly new organisations recruitment is underway for the roles that are required to lead and support the Areas.
As with any changes of this nature and complexity communication over forthcoming months will be essential. Clubs will need to understand how things are changing and how the new local leadership organisations will be establishing the processes to support the game locally. It will take a collective effort to ensure that the benefits of the changes can be realised to greatest effect.
To find out more about specific aspects of the changes there are some more details in the following sections
At the heart of the changes is an updated and aligned governance structure at all levels of the game. This sets out much clearer and consistent expectations for organising bodies. Duplication of responsibilities at different levels is removed and the purpose of Areas, Counties and England Hockey all more clearly defined.
The updated England Hockey Articles redrafted are supported by a set of transition regulations to manage the change. New national committees will be established together with the Areas Standing Committee, where the eight Areas come together, and the supporting themed working groups (such as adult leagues & competitions and officiating).
The new Area company articles have been through three phases of consultation as they have been developed. The next phase is to define the supporting regulations and rules in more detail.
The new Areas will be officially formed at the inaugural meetings of the new organisations later in the Spring where clubs will be invited to join as members and be directly part of the organisation that runs hockey locally.
As part of the Structure Fit for the Future proposals the term ‘Sub-Areas’ was used to define what in the vast majority of cases was likely to be County associations. In recent weeks over 130 people from Counties have attended forums setting out the future role and function of Counties. It is intended that the County role will focus on participation by supporting local club competition, schools competition provision and hockey development activities. Also, Counties will continue to support representative activity through the current Player Pathway Academy Centre activity that will move to being County Hockey under the new Talent Direction proposals.
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In all the Areas where significant changes to league structures are being undertaken, considerable time and effort has gone in to iterating the structure proposals from the initial drafts hundreds of clubs have attended the forums held in these areas and the subsequent survey responses have honed the detail of the structures.
The remaining uncertainty relates to the conclusion of the 2020-21 season in light of Covid-19. In a large number of areas the season has been declared null and void by local leagues and in this case results from 2019-20 will determine the new structures incorporating promotion and relegations from the end of that season. Not every Area is in the same position though so communication will come from Areas on how the populated structures for 2021-22 will be created. The Regional Premier Divisions are also considering the ongoing Return to Play issues and the best solution for providing the teams for the expanded England Hockey League Conferences. This will be communicated as soon as possible.
A consistent framework of league rules is being discussed by the eight Area Adult Leagues & Competitions Working group and will be issued in time for next season.
Consultation has been underway on a revised Junior Club Competition Framework. This has been well received by clubs seeking greater clarity on alignment in the junior hockey calendar ensuring provision for all levels of club to participate but also improving the way that the calendar can work to support players in making good choices around activities and avoid conflicts. The framework will be published in coming weeks.
The next step is ensuring alignment of roles and responsibilities between Areas and Counties/Sub-Areas and planning for the first year of provision. Clubs should look out for communication from Areas on this.
A Vision for Officiating was published in the Autumn of 2020 and the focus has been on establishing the local Officiating committees at Area level bringing together the various representatives of HUAs.
Nationally the focus has been on ensuring that the governance of Officiating can reflect the unique status of officials in the sport. The aim is to create a single membership organisation that can bring together the officiating community within one body. Alongside this the local officials will be part and parcel of the new Area organisations ensuring the game is connected nationally and locally in the best possible way.
Club officiating support has been improved recently through more online content, including courses and officiating membership. This, on top of the newly trained 300+ Club Umpire Developers , is part of the broader support provided for club umpires.
Changes to the Masters game were planned to start more slowly in the timeline from the proposal but work is starting soon nationally with the representatives of the Areas.
In terms of activity the last Regional Masters tournaments will hopefully take place this summer before moving to become Areas tournaments in 2022. County Masters tournaments will continue where already in place and the appetite for more widespread versions of these will be assessed before summer 2022. Where Masters club leagues are in place it is expected that these will start to align to the governance structures of the new Areas during the 2021-22 season.
The National Discipline Panel have met to consider the changes to the discipline process in light of the changes. Discipline will become an Area responsibility rather than being handled at County and Regional level. In light of this there will be an Area Discipline Administrator with a number of Assistants in the new structure.
Minor changes have been made to the discipline code in light of the changes with more changes being considered for later in the summer in readiness for next season.
Roles In The New Organisations
The new governance structures will create a new way of working for hockey and considerable thought has gone into the new structures and ways of working. The new organisations will be expected to use technology effectively to that will make the best use of volunteer time and help to attract and retain the best calibre of volunteers.
Applicants for the key Director and Committee Chair roles will be put before the Area members at the inaugural general meeting. Committee roles will be approved by the Area Board of Directors.
There are a range of roles that require different skill sets and time commitments that are set out as follows:
These are crucial leadership roles in the new organisations that will need people to take responsibility for the new organisations. The director roles set out are as follows and it is expected that these roles will attract people willing to take an overview of hockey in the Area and provide the direction and decision making to make the Area function effectively. Full role descriptions are available in the attachments on this page
- Chair of the Board
- Vice Chair of the Board
- Finance Director
- Governance Director
- Operations Director
These are the roles that will lead key functions of the new Area. They will be expected to lead their committee effectively, attend Area Director meetings and national meetings with England Hockey supporting the direction for that function nationally. Full role descriptions are available in the attachments on this page
- Adult Competition Chair
- Junior Competition Chair
- Masters Chair
- Officiating Chair
- Area Disciplinary Administrator
These roles will be part of the functional committees of the new Areas and require volunteers that are happy to be part of making hockey happen in their Area. There are a range of time and skill requirements as well as some flexibility in approach depending on the time that volunteers can give.
Adult Leagues & Competitions
- Area League Manager - To overseas the work of the Divisional secretaries, work closely with the Adult League and Competitions Chair and liaise with the Officiating Area Administrator and Appointment lead.
- CMS Manager - To manage the official information on the Communications Management System (CMS) for the Adult Leagues and Competitions and support clubs using the CMS.
- PR Officer - To promote the Area Adult League and Competitions to the clubs and proactively raise the profile and share best practice of the league and all competitions.
- Club Reps - To represent the clubs at Area Adult League and Competitions Committee, to give feedback on behalf of the clubs about what is working well and what could be improved for your clubs.
- Indoor Lead - To provide administrator support to the delivery of the Area Adult Indoor Competitions programme and ensure the smooth running of all the indoor competitions.
- Divisional Sec - To manage divisions proactively, be first point of the contact for teams in their responsible divisions and check and challenge the clubs match information on the CMS.
- Officiating Rep – To provide link between Area Officiating Committee and Adult Leagues & Competitions to ensure appropriate standards of performance in Area Appointed Officials is delivered and providing Officiating input where requested
Junior Leagues & Competitions
- Junior Coordinator - To embed and manage the planning and implementation of junior competitions across the Area in line with the national Junior Competitions Framework, delivering a high-quality customer experience.
- Indoor Lead - To provide administrator support to the delivery of the Area junior indoor competitions programme and ensure the smooth running of all the indoor competitions.
- Sub Area Reps - To represent the Sub-Areas at the Juniors League and Competitions Area Committee, to give feedback on the Junior Competitions activity, what is working well, what could be improved, and support required at the Sub-Area level.
- Schools Lead - To oversee, organise and implement the Area and Sub-area schools hockey competition programme.
- Junior County Hockey Competition organiser – responsible for organising competition between Junior County Hockey teams in line with the Centralised Calendar Dates.
- Appointments Lead – To appropriately appoint to highest levels of Area Competition, EH Cup and any other requested competitions
- Club Liaison Lead - To provide essential link between clubs and Officiating Committee, to deliver development support for club-based Umpires and Technical Officials
- Head of Development - To oversee the development of individuals undertaking Area Umpiring appointments, as well as overseeing standards of umpire coach & assessor standards delivered
- Young Umpires Lead - To proactively recruit, retain and develop Young Umpires (under 23 years old) to service Junior and Senior Umpiring opportunities
- Area Technical Officiating Lead- To coordinate recruitment and development opportunities for Technical Officials to support Area and National competitions
- Coordinator - To embed and manage the planning and implementation of Masters competitions across the Area in line with England Hockey’s Framework, delivering a high-quality customer experience.
- Sub Area Reps - To represent the Sub-Areas at the Masters Area Committee, to give feedback on the Masters Competition, what is working well, what could be improved, and support required at the Sub-Area level.
- Competition Organiser – To lead the competition provision for Masters within the Area.
- Team manager - To administrator and manage a Masters team and the welfare of all the team members at training and competitions.
- Lead Selector - To be responsible for conducting a fair and transparent selection process for all players wishing to be part of a Masters team.
- Assistant Area Disciplinary Administrator - To be a member of an Area Discipline Panel (ADP) delivering effective management all aspects of Discipline across an ‘Area’ (as defined by England Hockey). To support the Area Disciplinary Administrator (ADA) including review of Disciplinary processes across the sport.
Updated articles and roles are in development but Counties will be looking for people interested in supporting the following activities.
- Junior County Hockey (Player Pathway Development and Academy Centre activity)
- Junior Club Competitions
- Schools Hockey Competitions
- Adult County Hockey – specifically Masters and adult County teams
- Hockey Development supporting clubs and community programmes
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals, clubs and organisations who have shared ideas, commented and engaged with the consultations and process so far. Change on this scale would not be possible without the buy in and efforts of all and we look forward to seeing the hard work come to fruition initially on March 16th and later with the start of the season under the new governance structure in September 2021.