Inclusion is at the heart of the newly revised playing kit regulations for England Hockey’s domestic league. As part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Framework, launched in 2022, England Hockey has adapted the playing kit regulations for the 2022/23 season to enable players to feel comfortable and included when playing our sport, and to reduce the cost demands of bespoke playing kit.
The new regulations provide clarity on the items that can be worn when playing, including, for the first time, making explicit reference to head coverings for players, such as turbans and hijabs.
This reflects and represents the diverse participation of our game and our country and ensures the protection of the freedom to wear playing kit that includes and respects all religious, cultural, and personal choices.
Under the new regulations, players have the freedom to choose to wear shorts, skirts or skorts on an individual basis, with no requirements to wear the same item as other players in their team, as long as they are the same colour.
This move gives autonomy to the individual, encouraging players to choose what they feel comfortable in, regardless of traditional hockey uniform gender norms. Not only will this provide opportunities for shorts to be worn in the women’s section, but these changes aim to create a more inclusive kit space in hockey for our players in non-binary and trans communities.
The outer layer of kit – playing shirt and socks – need to be in team colours but any additional items underneath such as long-sleeved top skins, leggings or cycle shorts do not need to match kit colours as long as they do not clash with opposition colours. This aims to reduce the pressure costs for bespoke club wear, and put participation, accessibility and comfort at the centre of hockey.
The new regulations apply to all levels of league competition. However, the EHL require players to wear team colours for all layers (such as long-sleeved t-shirts, leggings or cycle shorts), but the principles of greater individual choice remain consistent throughout the game.
England Hockey’s regulations will help people feel welcome and comfortable while playing the game.
Tess Howard, England and GB player, worked alongside Alison Faiers, EH Change Manager for ED&I, to help create these important changes to the kit regulations and believes they will be instrumental in keeping more people in our sport. The Durham graduate and current LSE masters student said,
“Sports kit is a powerful tool for identity, belonging, and for confidence. For me, this has always been about choice, and putting participation, inclusion and comfort at the heart of hockey. The default in hockey is still to offer skorts to girls and shorts for boys. Alongside producing a uniform gender binary in our sport, bringing harmful stereotypes and very real participation barriers, there is simply the practical, performance and personal comfort aspect that is so overlooked in rigid sportwear policies.
“My research paper revealed 3 in 4 women have seen girls drop-out of sport because of sports kit or body image concerns. The data shows simply expanding sports kit flexibility and choice increases comfort in sport and the likelihood of long-term participation. We need to create real choice for all individuals, which means protecting the freedom to wear long-sleeves, leggings and head-coverings. I’m proud of England Hockey’s regulation changes, and encourage active enactment of them across our clubs, placing the comfort and confidence of our players at the centre of our game.”