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Westacott frustrated by league's decision to push back restart until January

Eddie Westacott and coach Shona McCallin


Maidenhead women’s first team captain Eddie Westacott says she feels frustrated and let down by the South Women’s Hockey League’s decision to suspend all matches until after the new year.

Maids had been due to

return to league action at

Oxford on Saturday, but they received an email from the league on Wednesday last week explaining at all matches until January 9 were postponed because of tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

That email arrived just hours before the team’s first post-lockdown training session and it left Eddie feeling frustrated and annoyed. She responded to the league by email expressing her dissatisfaction and surprise at the decision, but the league said they were simply following a directive from England Hockey. They are, however, one of the only leagues in the country to do so.

Maidenhead’s men’s 1st team got back to action on Saturday, losing 8-4 at home to Southgate 2nds and many other leagues across the region have also now resumed.

“We were incredibly frustrated and disappointed,” said Westacott. “We got an email on Wednesday about three hours before our training sessions from the South Women’s League chairman to say that due to the tier situation we were not able to travel to games with anyone outside of our households.

“It went on to say that it therefore felt all away games were impossible because of this and that all matches were cancelled in December.

“I emailed the league straight away and said how disappointed and surprised I was by their decision. I said if the decision came down to travelling then surely matches could go ahead if we all travelled to games on our own. They responded to say they’re also disappointed but said that was the directive they’d had from England Hockey. I didn’t bother to go into a back and forth but it’s disappointing they’ve made that decision when no one else seems to have done. No other league apart from this one has made that decision.

“The South Men’s league played their games. The Trysports League which is below our level also played. Those leagues have basically said it’s down to the club’s discretion as to whether they’re happy to play matches or not.

“The players wanted to play. Because of the rules now no one can do anything, so it was good to have something to look forward to, to get together for a match.”

The league has brought the resumption of matches after Christmas forward from late January to January 9, but Westacott believes that will cause additional problems and, with the prospect of the country being forced back into another lockdown early in the new year, there’s a genuine fear the season will have to be extended or finished early.

“They’ve brought the restart of the season forward to January 9 so we’re now going to have to play after not playing for nearly two and a half months,” she said. “There’s going to be no opportunities to play January friendlies which is what we’d normally do during those weeks.

“And with the prospect of the country going back into another lockdown in January, because of Christmas, we look like we might be playing in May or June or have to play double headers which no one wants. It’s frustrating but we’re training, and we’ve organised a friendly against Sonning this Sunday. It’s ironic that we can play a friendly, but we can’t play in the league.”

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