The KNHB goes up the barricade for senior hockey players and the big league-competition. The hockey association believes that senior hockey players, just like youth up to the age of 18, should be able to train in groups and play matches among themselves. Director Erik Gerritsen also argues that the Hoofdlasse Dames and Tulp Hoofdlasse Heren, just like the honorary and first division football, are given an exceptional position and the competitions can continue.
On Tuesday evening, the government put a line through all group training and competitions for seniors for at least four weeks due to the flaring up of the corona virus . Gerritsen understands the suspension of sports competitions in order to contribute to reducing the number of travel movements. However, the director has reservations about the usefulness of limiting the training of seniors and finds the crossing out of the big league-competition unjustified.
Gerritsen has now expressed the displeasure of the hockey association about this to the sports umbrella organization NOC * NSF and the Ministry of VWS. ‘To be clear: as a sport we adhere to government measures. We also think it is important to cooperate in reducing the corona virus. But the training sessions of all seniors and the big league-competition will be number 1 on my agenda for the coming period. If I am quite honest, I am pessimistic about our chances in the very short term, but I will do everything I can to make it clear that things must and can be done differently without putting public health at risk. Because once again, that extra measures are needed, I understand that completely, ‘says Gerritsen.
The director states that from the first corona measures the hockey association has always followed the government in its decision-making and has contributed constructively, but he thinks that the sport of hockey is now being hit ‘disproportionately’. He also misses ‘the ground’ to ban the training of seniors.
‘Outdoor sports, as has been proven in various studies, can be fine. The RIVM itself states that the chance of infections during sports in the open air is very small. This view has not changed. In addition, training and playing at your own club does not cause extra travel movements. Many hockey players can cycle to the club or travel in their own car to training. That is why I find the measures for seniors difficult to explain to our supporters, ‘says Gerritsen.
He also thinks it is important from a health perspective that adults can continue to play hockey. ‘It is particularly important in these times that we as a society are healthy and resilient. Hockey keeps you physically and mentally fit. That is now snowing at the bottom of the prevention measures, while it is precisely now important to ensure that we are as fit as possible. ‘
According to the government, seniors are allowed to train outdoors in groups of four people at 1.5 meters. According to Gerritsen, this solution is ‘difficult to work with’ for hockey. ‘It will be quite a puzzle for us to see how we should arrange that. We look at that now. It goes without saying that if this rule remains in place, clubs and athletes will look to the edges of what is possible, for example by training on a field with as many groups of four people as possible. This is precisely what the government is helping to do, which it would rather not see. And we, in turn, do not want clubs and hockey players to look to the edges of what is possible. So why doesn’t the government still allow training and mutual matches at their own club? This does not increase the contamination risks and at the same time limits the enormous consequences for clubs and hockey players.
The scrapping of the competitions and group training is hard for all senior hockey players, but it certainly also affects the big league clubs where a part of players as professionals or semi-professionals are financially dependent on the sport. According to Gerritsen, the big league hockey players do not differ from their colleagues in the first division football, who, like the premier division football, have been given an exceptional position. They may train in groups and play competition without an audience.
Gerritsen: ‘If, in addition to the premier division, the first division and possibly also the women’s premier division can continue, I think it is only logical that we can continue to play hockey matches in the big league. The Dutch Major League is the most professional hockey club competition in the world, with budgets comparable to the first division. I do not see why one competition may continue and the other not. Moreover, it does not apply to any other sport in the Netherlands that both top competitions are among the best in the world and that all national and international stars play there. ‘
As a secondary reason, the KNHB finds the continuation of the big league important for the national teams, which by the way do have permission to continue to train and play. Gerritsen: ‘That’s good news, because they are preparing for next year’s Olympic Games. Because of Tokyo, however, it is also important for the internationals that they can continue to play in a competitive context. They need the other players in the big league for that. ‘
The Orange Ladies and Orange Men can continue training in the coming period because the players have an Olympic A-status. The training takes place in the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam, which, like Papendal, has been specially designated for this purpose by the government.
The FIH Pro League matches against Great Britain will also be played in the Wagener Stadium on 27 and 29 October . Those competitions will continue as usual without an audience. This also applies to the duels on November 4 against the national teams in and against Belgium.