Basketball fans in the UK received great news on Friday that they will be able to begin their season by the end of the month as they were given assurance of government funding that will help them function with fans. Ice hockey fans can only look on in envy.
The Elite League is already done for the season, as per the announcement almost a month ago that the 2020/21 campaign couldn’t go ahead under current conditions.
There’s still a glimmer of hope for the NIHL, SNL and junior development programmes that they can salvage something of a season, but ongoing announcements as cases of coronavirus are on the rise again mean they are in limbo as they try to find their way back.
Submissions have been made to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by Ice Hockey UK to obtain funding that will provide the assistance to help the sport during troubling time.
So with the news that basketball will proceed with the backing of a reported £4 million – which is fantastic to hear – it’s time for the government to step up and save our sport.
Scottish Ice Hockey chairman David Hand spoke the The Herald newspaper last week and highlighted the fact the junior programmes will feel the effects of the pandemic for the next five years.
He spoke of the very real fear of losing kids to other sports, if it hasn’t happened already and while he was speaking in a Scottish context, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume it would be the same in the EIHA as well.
Cliche alert, but we really are in unprecedented times right now and while the government are being pulled and stretched all over the place by various sporting governing bodies, not to mention cinemas, the arts and all who come under the DCMS umbrella, all looking for a piece of the pie.
Ice hockey is the most popular indoor sport in the UK and surely worthy of some of that pot of cash. Not necessarily for the Elite League, but most certainly for the lower leagues who rely on the ongoing support of fans and parents.
The EIHL clubs may need running costs to function and get them through in the absence of any games and fans, but the smaller clubs and rinks certainly need that help more as the prospect of a lost generation gets ever real.
The coronavirus figures have been on the rise recently, which has meant the governing bodies are still at a certain level of their ‘Return to Play’ programmes, but still some way off full contact training and play, especially for some of the older age groups.
Plans to return have had to be continually altered and amended in keeping with the latest guidelines from respective governments, which doesn’t help the situation by any stretch, but as this causes further stress and challenges, the bottom line is the coffers are emptying and need replenishment and urgently.
Like everything else, ice hockey is in a precarious position right now and if basketball can now function, surely it must be time for DCMS to recognise the plight of similar so-called minor sports and deliver what’s needed before we see teams and rinks disappear into memory.