Local hockey fans will have to wait one more year to see Goulburn's best players represent their state again, after an announcement from the Hockey One executive on Wednesday that its second season had been deferred by 12 months.
After its initial postponement from late 2020, Hockey One was scheduled to start on October 1 of this year. In August, while NSW and the ACT were both in lockdown, the competition was rescheduled again to begin "no later than October 29". However, due to the continued impact of COVID-19, the board made the decision to push the tournament back another year.
"We remain determined and absolutely committed to safely deliver the second season of Sultana Bran Hockey One League as soon as practically possible," league general manager, Tony Dodemaide, said.
"Having taken into account a host of considerations, by assigning season two to begin in October next year we are optimistic of having freedom of travel and the ability to stage national sporting events across the entire country."
Goulburn resident, and one of 10 locals named in the Canberra Chill squads, Jake Staines, said the postponement of season two was "a real shame".
However, he is optimistic that there may still be some non-competition games played to ensure that the squad's preparation was not for nothing.
"If one tournament doesn't go ahead, they've usually got something else going ahead whether it's against a couple of states," Staines said.
"It might not be NSW or Victoria because they're hotspots, it might be between the ACT and South Australia, so that all the training and energy doesn't go to waste.
"I'm hopeful that something will come up and we'll be ready for it."
A number of options were examined in regards to delaying the competition only briefly, but Dodemaide said they either posed too much risk or may have conflicted with other high-profile events.
"[The deferral] will also ensure the league has the best hockey talent competing, including the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos athletes who have important international commitments in 2022," he said.
"We looked at an extensive range of options and alternatives to hold the competition in the last quarter of 2021 and then the first quarter of 2022.
"In the end, all exhibited either too high a risk or too much of a compromise to the brand of Hockey One and value proposition that it is based upon.
"We appreciate and share our stakeholders' frustration with a further delay. Unfortunately, as with many fellow sporting competitions, much of this is out of our control.
"The players, coaches and organisers can't wait to bring this world class hockey competition back to pitches across the country. All passionately agree that this competition is vital to the long term strategy and success of Australian hockey."
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