Men's Club Captain, Wesley Jackson speaks to England Hockey to discuss how East Grinstead are overcoming lockdown challenges...
England Hockey published the following article on December 2nd. For more England Hockey News visit their website here: http://www.englandhockey.co.uk
East Grinstead Hockey Club has had to find new ways of doing things in light of the Covid pandemic. We caught up with officials there to see how they had overcome challenges being faced by clubs across the country.
As part of the wider East Grinstead Sports Club, the hockey club used the services of agency staff to deal with much of the running of the club. As Covid-19 struck, these staff members were furloughed and the hockey committee had to solve the logistics of pitch watering, lighting, bookings and all the other day-to-day tasks associated with running a hockey club.
One of the people who has taken a leading role in meeting the Covid-19 challenges is Wes Jackson, the men's Club Captain at East Grinstead Hockey Club. It is fair to say, in that role, he has had his work cut out as part of the team that is juggling running the club under the restrictions imposed under Covid-19 lockdown.
The work being done by Jackson and the rest of the administrative team has earned the praise of club members. Mary Booth, the East Grinstead Women's head coach, is full of praise for the work being done behind the scenes to keep the club on an even keel during these challenging times.
"We had some very positive drivers within the club who put strategies in place to enable us to use the pitch," says Booth. "For example, Wes Jackson – the men's Club Captain – has worked tirelessly with others in the club to get us to where we are currently."
Jackson first joined East Grinstead when he was 14, after beginning his hockey career alongside brother Ashley at Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club. A move west to attend university saw Jackson leave the club for a while, but he returned in 2011 and has been a permanent fixture on both the playing and club administration side ever since.
England Hockey caught up with Jackson to find out how East Grinstead Hockey Club has been dealing with the pandemic from an administrative standpoint.
"Our priority has been to create a safe environment for members, both adult and junior, who have a larger appetite than ever before to get back on the pitch," says Jackson. "Our club Open Day was so popular it was a case of making sure everyone was safe, felt safe and all the policies and procedures were in place and Covid-19 rules were followed."
To ensure members stayed safe, Jackson says a lot of extra administrative tasks have been necessary. This includes check-in procedures and Covid Officer administration. The club has also had to invest in safe products and systems for match days and training sessions. This extra expense all comes at a time when the clubhouse bar – a major source of income – has remained shut.
The Covid Officer and committee members have had regular online meetings. Policies and risk assessments have been re-written and there has been an ongoing education process on Covid safety for all members.
"Communication has been key," says Jackson. "Our junior managers have been excellent in relaying information to all of our juniors and parents."
To provide as welcoming an environment as possible under the circumstances, East Grinstead has created designated areas for players, spectators and officials. Parents and spectators have been asked to remain on one side of the pitch and a one-way system has been put in place. The club has also invested in live streaming the first team matches so members and the general public can continue to watch hockey.
Jackson says there have been several learning points from the two lockdown periods. He says the enthusiasm among members and the continued growth of the club, despite restrictions, has been "amazing". At the same time, the pandemic has brought home the need for club policies to be reviewed regularly and maintained at a very high standard.
Taking some learning points from the situation, Jackson says the team managers have been using a number of ways of providing information and this is something that will continue as things return to normal. Live streaming matches is also something that will continue long after the pandemic has passed.
And he adds: "We would like to thank all our members, both junior and adult, all our parents and all our managers and coaching staff from junior to first team, for all their hard work in maintaining our high standards and bringing a huge buzz back to the club.
"Many people work tirelessly to create an environment, which we all want to be a part of and continue the rich history the club holds dear. We send our best wishes to everyone in the hockey world and hope we can be back better than ever in 2021."