Governance Review

Information about the governance structure that allows for maximum participation in hockey through a new system


In 2017 a proposal for a review of how hockey was structured locally was put forward by clubs to the England Hockey AGM and it was strongly supported by the membership.

The vision was to create a robust governance structure to allow for maximum participation in hockey within a safe environment underpinned by an organisational structure that ensures consistency, accountability, transparency and communication at all levels.

Accordingly, in the summer of 2019, a series of consultations were undertaken around the country, followed by an online survey for members.

Through detailed research and a travel mapping exercise undertaken pro-bono for England Hockey by Llamasoft, an operational logistics company, a new structure of eight areas was proposed to divide the balance of clubs and players more equally in hockey in England. Throughout the consultation England Hockey made it clear that clubs would be allowed to request their area to play in if they felt, or were, in close proximity to, a boundary.

Adult leagues and competitions, led by the eight areas, as set out in the proposal, would have a common rules framework across genders and areas to help make the lives of administrators, from both clubs and associations, easier across the sport.

A framework was provided through this proposal for junior competition to allow for the necessary local flexibility according to demand with festival, central-venue and home and away provision within the framework and more consistency of structure aligned to good practice already available.

Having taken on board this feedback an updated proposal set out the plan to modernise, streamline and improve the administration of hockey for the benefit of players, clubs and the organising bodies. In September 2020, at the annual England Hockey AGM, 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.

The initial process found over 250 volunteers on various working groups, locally and nationally, guiding the development of the proposals. The nature of the changes required meant different starting points and activities required according to the current structures in place.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on the 2020 season for clubs, but it allowed some volunteers from associations and clubs to invest more time that might have otherwise been possible. This helped deliver against the timeline to deliver the new structure in September 2021.

The England Hockey AGM on the 16 March 2021 formed the next key stage of the process where the updated England Hockey Articles of Association were put before the membership and formally kicked off the governance changes to 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. The transition period was critical for the changes to progress as smoothly as possible.

The new organisations held inaugural meetings later in the spring where clubs were invited to provide insight into the transition process, and which allowed people to express interest in roles allowing organisations to run smoothly by offering opportunities for the community to lead and support the Areas.

The transition period was complex and communication with the clubs was essential. Clubs needed to understand how things were changing and how the new local leadership organisations would establish the processes to support the game locally.

Within Governance, which is at the heart of the changes, it was key to ensure an updated and aligned governance structure was applied at all levels of the game.  This set out a much clearer and consistent expectation for organising bodies. Duplication of responsibilities at different levels was removed and the purpose of Areas, Counties and England Hockey were all clearly defined.

Within the Sub-Areas and Counties, the County role will focus on participation by supporting local club competition, schools’ competition provision and hockey development activities as well as continuing to support representative activity through the Talent Academy Centre activity within the Talent System Framework.

Within the Adult Leagues & Competitions all the Areas saw significant changes to league structures.

A consistent framework of league rules was discussed and agreed by the eight Area Adult Leagues & Competitions Working group and was issued in time for following season.

The Junior Leagues & Competitions went to consultation for a revised Junior Club Competition Framework. The proposal ensured the provision of hockey, for all levels of clubs, to participate but also improving the way that the calendar worked to support players in making good choices around activities and avoid conflicts.

Officiating is a huge part of Hockey and ensuring that the passion and vision wasn’t lost, the new league structures provide opportunities and create a single membership organisation to bring together the officiating community within one body. Alongside this the local officials became 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.

The Masters game continues to grow with regional, county, area and international opportunities available that fit within the new structure.

And finally, the National Discipline Panel met deciding that Discipline becomes the Areas’ responsibility rather than being handled at County and Regional level. Minor changes were made to the discipline code in light of the new structure.

Where we are currently

The 8 Area companies will be holding their 3rd AGMs in July 2024, they administer the adult leagues and run a full programme of junior hockey, together with administering the discipline system and running Masters and Officiating in their areas.  The Game Management System (GMS) supports these competitions and work continues to develop the system.

The majority of counties have adopted the new template England Hockey constitution with the remaining counties working with England Hockey to achieve this.

Forums and networking events keep Areas and Counties informed of England Hockey initiatives and enable the sharing of best practice.

The Area Standing Committee comprising the 8 Area Chairs meets regularly and provides England Hockey with a valuable feedback and challenge mechanism. The equivalent County Standing Committee and its junior subgroup consult and make recommendations to England Hockey on policies and issues affecting counties.