#SafeReturn – How French Hockey is restarting

01/10/2020

As hockey players, fans, umpires, parents return to the hockey fields all over Europe, we are taking some time to take a snapshot of what’s happening around Europe and who are the drivers to make hockey happen in a safe environment for players, club members and fans. #SafeReturn

We spoke to French Hockey’s Communications Manager Cathelijne Rockall-Poelmann, to get an understanding of the work being done by the Federation to get the players back to hockey!

“We started back with our leagues a couple of weeks ago now, working under the Regulations from the Government. In France we have both Government and then local regional guidelines and it’s essential for the sport to work with all of these new rules.”

“Every club has to have a COVID Co-ordinator, this person is responsible for advising local governemnt of the plans in place to keep people as safe as possible. It is mandatory to wear a face covering here in France and people seem to be complying with that.”

“Simple things, well things that used to be simple – like showering in the club, is now complex! They are open, for now, but with social distancing you have to have a rota for when you shower!”

“The match protocol is very strict, so no crossing of the teams in the warmup, no ball patrol, only 2 are allowed on the technical table (no paper is allowed!), no line ups, the coin toss is done by the umpire. Each team has created a ‘bubble’ and this ‘bubble’ is advised to the Federation. If there’s a positive test in the ‘bubble’ that person has to isolate, of course, but the rest of the ‘bubble’ also has to isolate and get tested. The person with a positive test must have a negative one to come back to hockey.”

“Coaches must wear masks, players too when they are leaving the pitch, so only no mask for players during game time! It can be tricky to monitor but as Alexia (AH&BC), people really do have to take responsibility for themselves.”

“Players are not allowed to fly to games, to be honest, this makes sense, as if a game is cancelled then this is a financial mess for the clubs. Teams should use the train, or their cars, of course!

But we have big distances in France!” “We hope to keep hockey going as best we can! We are working with our clubs especially to try and keep the morale up with the players, especially the lower teams who look to our clubs for not just hockey but for the social side of the sport too!”

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