Open letter to England Hockey regarding U18 National Plate Finals day

I am writing to you both to formally inform you that Bromley and Beckenham Boys U18's will not be attending tomorrows National Plate Finals day at Old Loughtonians HC.

Despite there being a governing body centralised calendar in place that we are all told is sacrosanct, it appears not to be the case when it comes to fixture clashes with schools/clubs.

Of the three main schools who provide 11 of my U18 squad, two have point blank refused to allow players to attend, with penalties if they did, and the third has placed so much emotional pressure on players saying "if you play for your club, you will miss your last ever game for your school", that the boys have opted for school.

Aside from the fact that none of these school matches have anything competitive about them, they are all inter school friendlies, it is disappointing to know that as a club we have had our second consecutive season marred for this group of players by these actions; last year we have 9 boys threatened with expulsion from the single system at JAC level if they chose to play club matches on a Sunday instead of attending non- central calendar dates for JAC training. This resulted in 5 boys turning their back on the single system.

On each occasion the club has sought help/advice from EH thinking we were only asking for people to follow a central calendar. The lack of support from EH on both occasions has been very noticeable by the silence with a seemingly preferred stance being taken of, " we will let the club sort that out themselves".

Whether this is correct or not the feeling by most of my players/parents is one of being let down by the national governing body of our sport. Until there is a significant improvement in dialogue between all parties involved in hockey I can only see this continuing with the likely outcome being even further reductions in the participation numbers of our sport. As a coach of over 15 years at junior level from club right through to HiPAC, I am struggling to see how I can recommend the game to new participants when these things continue to happen.

I hope this news will not devalue too much your efforts in preparing and organising what is supposed to be the showpiece event for junior club hockey, but I hope you understand our disappointment at not being able to take part.



Neil Goodall
Bromley & Beckenham HC