Ipswich hockey umpires will have extra duties to perform from next weekend under the COVID-19 Safety Management Plan.
Ipswich hockey umpires will have extra duties to perform from next weekend under the COVID-19 Safety Management Plan.

Extra roles for umpires, players, fans as city sport resumes

AS an experienced A-Grade coach Mark Eleison has plenty to think about preparing for the return of Ipswich hockey competition next weekend.

His Hancocks women's team play the second match of the revised nine-week series against Thistles on Friday night.

However, while coaches and players have to adjust to some new procedures, Eleison has another job keeping him busy.

The Ipswich Hockey Association Umpires president is keen to ensure his team of whistleblowers follow a set of protocols introduced to keep the sport safe in coming weeks.

HOCKEY GOALS: Trying to find some normality

TOP OFFICIALS: See which hockey achievers were included

GREAT NICKNAME: How Ipswich goalie became an Owl

One of the key changes is staggered game times, reducing the ability of umpires to back up in consecutive matches.

Eleison said the umpires would follow Hockey Queensland's EVA checking system.

"It's just an app which is found on your phone and basically it's to say that you are there and when you leave, you check out,'' Eleison said.

"We'll get the umpires to use that.''

Hancocks A-Grade coach Mark Eleison has extra procedures to monitor when the revised season starts next weekend. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Hancocks A-Grade coach Mark Eleison has extra procedures to monitor when the revised season starts next weekend. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Training and playing times for players will also be tracked.

"From an umpires point of view, they have got to clean their cards and whistles after the game . . . no sharing of equipment,'' he said.

With Ipswich umpires having their own earpieces to use, they will need to wipe down their radio transmitters regularly.

"We've got our umpires room set up with cleaning equipment, sanitisers for their whistles so they don't get that disinfectant taste in their mouth. It's a food-based sanitiser.''

Umpires will also be responsible for wiping down goal nets and cleaning game balls supplied by Hockey Australia for the rest of the season.

"Basically, if a ball goes out of play, it's supposed to be cleaned before it is used again,'' he said.

Another ball will come from the tech bench so the original ball can be cleaned.

Although there's a lot to consider, Eleison knows his team of umpires are excellent at adapting to changing rules.

Eleison will return to coaching on Friday night when Hancocks tackle Thistles in their 7.15pm game.

That will start 15 minutes after the opening game at the Ipswich Hockey Complex that night - an A2 women's encounter between Bellbowrie and Hancocks.

The first men's games scheduled for the 2020 competition restart are A2 clashes between Hancocks and Norths at 8.30pm and Easts and Swifts (8.45pm).

Both A-Grade competitions will restart with four teams after Norths and Swifts withdrew their women's sides.

Other lower teams have also pulled out of the remaining season during the recent COVID-19 shutdown.

Ipswich Hockey Association secretary Margret Mantell said this year's competitions would not be the traditional premierships for each grade.

The restructured nine-week Ipswich season will conclude with finals between the two top teams in each grade over the weekend of September 18-20.

"There will be no winners of the 2020 premierships,'' Mantell said. "But the winners of the final in each grade will be named winners of the 2020 COVID Competitions or something similar.''

Under Ipswich Hockey's COVID Safety Management Plan, everyone entering the complex will be required to sign in and out.

Teams and spectators will need to leave the complex after each game to allow for cleaning prior to the next teams entering the complex.

 

Previous Hockey Queensland award winners (from left) Association president Margret Mantell, promising umpire Aaron Gotting and volunteer of the year Mark Eleison.
Previous Hockey Queensland award winners (from left) Association president Margret Mantell, promising umpire Aaron Gotting and volunteer of the year Mark Eleison.

As a coach, umpire and dedicated volunteer, Eleison said the hope now was that everyone adjusted quickly to the changed conditions and made the most of the available competition.

"Back training this week, the first one,'' Eleison said.

"It's going to be a different start to the season. Generally you get 4-6 weeks.

"It's not going to be a full competition.

 

Hancock Brothers have retained most of their A-Grade players for their first match back on Friday night. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Hancock Brothers have retained most of their A-Grade players for their first match back on Friday night. Picture: Cordell Richardson

"We're not going to issue the trophies at the end of the year like we normally do.

"It's a competition to come back, make sure that everyone returns to play and enjoys themselves.

"I think that's the attitude you've got to go in with.''

With a forced change of holiday plans, Eleison spent the past two weeks gardening and painting at home. He's refocuing quickly on the task ahead.

The Hancocks A-Grade women will train on Wednesday night before lining up on Friday.

Eleison was confident he had retained most of his regulars, including representative players Sara Rogers and his niece Layla who have been training in Brisbane.

"They all know how each other plays which is good,'' he said.