Thanks for those who zoomed-in on Wednesday night, great to see so many familiar faces. I appreciate that the tone of the call to commit was direct and I make no apologies for that. It was not meant to make people feel that they are not welcome at the club, rather it was intended to highlight the importance of doing what we must do right now to ensure that UCHC comes out of this a strong hockey club. Let me be clear, above all else I want all Devils to be able to play hockey in this and future years.
The following covers the main talking points from the opening of the meeting:
Hockey ACT are juggling their responsibility to provide safe facilities and playing conditions in-line with fast changing Government direction. It is appreciated that we often ask players to respond at short notice, unfortunately HACT and UC also don’t get advanced notice of announcements and changing restrictions.
For the season to start we need to have conditions that allow for 11 per side, full ‘contact’ (not physically distanced) games that can also have coaches and umpires present to run the game - let’s say we need to be able to have 40 people at a field per game - and games can be played one after another without significant resetting (cleaning) of facilities; for ease I am calling this Level 3. Currently we are at Level 1 - 10 people (players and coach) per field, not engaging closer than 1.5m, training with one group per night. Looking at ACT Government announcement we expect to move to Level 2 soon which - without defining on behalf of HACT - will be something like 20 people per field field, there may still be distancing restrictions as well as limits on how many groups someone can train with in a day; depending on what Level 2 looks like there may need to be a Level 2.1 and so on before we get to Level 3.
UCHC income is currently limited to player fees. Our major fundraiser (Groove in the Moo) was cancelled as have smaller things like Grill’d and Bunnings BBQs. ACT Government changes to how clubs, like The RUC, can allocate sponsorship was already significantly reducing both actual and in-kind contributions and changes to UC's approach to funding clubs as part of the UC Stars concept was also something the Board was working through pre-COVID. Despite this the Board is eager to ensure that fees stay as low as possible and, especially as we hopefully go back to play in 2020, do not increase this year.
UCHC expenditure has increased as we are essentially running a double length pre-season (the one we had and the one we hope is to come). We are not increasing fees to cover these additional costs but it does eat into our reserves and we need to ensure cash flow, this is one reason why we are asking people who are playing this year to pay up front at this time. This was also a consideration in why the Board chose to not commence CL training under current restrictions as we were not comfortable in either expending club funds or requiring additional player contributions given the cost benefit of training restrictions.
Historically we are billed for turf time (for training) monthly, and playing time (for season games) at halfway and end of season - it is worth noting that in many states the association requires clubs to pay for seasons upfront. The Board has agreed that UCHC needs to be in a position (using both reserve and new money) to meet costs if they change - i.e. season fees are brought forward (this has not be presented to clubs by HACT but they are also managing cash flow changes due to COVID).
The decision to push for fees now also represents the Board’s intent that UCHC remains in a financially strong position so fees do not need to increase at this time, and we can return to traditional UCHC payment conditions as quickly as possible (ideally next year).
The Board has also recognised that for this season (due to decreased income and increased expenses) we need to field teams of 16 players. Normally we have been able to field teams with less than 16 players by covering the ‘gap’ through fundraising, unfortunately we don’t have that luxury this year.
In order to nominate teams and be assured that we can fully cover the costs within our means we are now asking for players to commit financially. We understand that we have asked if people are interested before, but the Board believe that there is a difference between being interested in playing and being committed to playing - for us that is the financial aspect. That said, we don’t believe that having to pay a large sum upfront should be a barrier to playing (this is not just a COVID-thing, but it is definitely highlighted at this time). We actively encourage players to establish a workable payment plan as an alternative, by emailing the club (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you are unable to pay the full amount at this time; if a deposit is all that you can manage at short notice we will make that work.
In terms of how things may move from here:
HACT are currently confirming with clubs if late season finish dates will prevent significant numbers of players participating in later rounds/finals due to things like summer sports (both kids and adult), exams/Uni residences closing, etc. The commitment we are asking from players at this time will form our response back to HACT.
HACT will accept late team nominations - indicatively two weeks from season commencement. This will mean that fixtures will be late and may trickle out across the season so we need to accept that frustration if we want the flexibility.
To reiterate, nothing can be locked down until restrictions are such that allow full games (see above).
The following questions were asked prior to and during the meeting:
What if the option I chose doesn’t happen, can I get my money back? Yes, we have been doing that already and will continue to do so if players can’t play or the season doesn’t start. We can also hold your money for the 2021 season if you like,
What if the option I chose doesn’t happen, can I change my choice and what happens with fees? We will contact everyone who chose the alternate option to see if they would like to change their mind and nominate additional teams accordingly. If that means players need to make up the difference in cost we will require that, if it means we need to refund players we will do that (or players can bank the difference for next season).
What if I say no now but want to say yes when there is more information? We want to have as many people playing as possible so, if you change your mind in the future, please let us know and we will nominate additional teams if possible.
When will the decision of a full or reduced SL season be made? We are providing our preference to HACT next week so we expect the intended plan will be advised soon after that with confirmation once restrictions permit.
Will HACT be offering two season lengths and what grades will there be? HACT is planning to offer one season length for CL (full) and one season length for SL (either full or reduced). CL will be CL1 and CL2. SL grades will be determined once clubs have entered nominations.
Will we run teams in every grade and/or two teams in a grade (i.e. SL1 Women)? We will nominate teams in grades based on the players that have registered and paid. We will endeavour to have players in an appropriate grade.
Can we play in more than one team in round? Unknown at this time but we will be seeking clarification from HACT in due course.
Can non-UCHC people play the social competition? Definitely, after all they’re just Devils who don’t know it yet!!!! They will need to pay the Hockey Australia levy and the season cost.
Are fees likely to increase? No.
Are life member fees affected? No.
Are rep player fees affected? We are looking into this given Hockey Australia have advised that there will be no representative competitions in 2020. If this will affect you please let us know by email (email@example.com).
How will early-bird fees be implemented? If you paid early-bird fees and you are in a full season competition there is no change; you are already covered. If you paid early-bird fees and you are in a reduced season competition we will refund you the difference noting that we will not be apply a discount on reduced season fees. If you paid early-bird fees and you play social we will refund you the difference noting that we will not be applying a discount on social season fees.
How can I find out how I have paid already? As part of tallying responses we will also check payments, we will let people know next week.
Can I organise a payment plan if I can’t pay full fees now? Definitely! We absolutely do NOT want any devil feeling like they can't play for the club because of their financial situation. What we DO need is certainty, which is why we ask that anyone who isn't able to pay up front get in contact with the board and arrange a payment plan, "No reasonable offer will be rejected" -Jimmy
When will training start? We are aiming for the week commencing 8 June which we hope will be the first week HACT will plan for all grades to commence training (not just CL as is currently happening). Our consideration to recommence training will be driven the restrictions and the value of training (allowable numbers and activities) that can be delivered for the cost of turf hire. Times will be determined close to the ‘go-date’ but we are hoping for the same times as previously intended at a minimum - if we can get HACT to bring times forward we will.
Where are the uniforms and singlets we ordered at the start of the year? Uniforms should have already been delivered to your nominated address by the supplier or have been collected by the club - we will bring them to training when it commences. The singlet orders were completed just before export restrictions were applied in the country manufacturing, the supplier has kept in regular contact with the club and we now expect delivery in late June.
What will be the rules around spectators? Unknown at this stage but the focus is on getting games underway before determining how many people can watch.
I appreciate that this, yet again, is a long blog and I thank you for sticking through it. If you have any further questions please contact us through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Messenger and we will now answer your individual questions.
Hope to see you in a physical, rather than virtual, form soon! Go Devils!!!