April 3, 2020

England National Team Programme head coach Ben Pitchley has written to all players, parents and staff to reflect on the programme’s lost tournament season.

Players at five age groups trialled from August to be selected for one of the England teams, with boys u13/14/15 due to head to Finland this weekend, with the girls u13 and u16 heading to Romania in a week’s time.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 the tournaments and camps have been cancelled meaning the 2020 England programme came to an abrupt, early end.

Here is Pitch’s note in full:

Today, for the boys teams, it should have been travel day to Finland…..
It should have been early starts for a few of us, even overnight stays in an airport hotel for a lot of us!
It would have been a #SeaOfRed at the airport.
Parents handing their kids over to the relevant ENTP staff, and hopefully being there when we handed them back in five days time.
For some players it would have been the first time ever pulling on an England shirt, in a real tournament game, for others it would have been the last time, unless they are selected for the 19s England vs Scotland game, when they are old enough.
Once the boys got back the girls teams would have been heading off to their training camp in Romania.
Same set up as the boys, a big #SeaOfRed at the airport, and the exhibition games they would have been playing out there would have had players in the same situation as some of the boys would have been in, a week earlier.
I’ve never had a tournament cancelled before in all my ten-plus years of being involved with England teams!  But then again I’ve never known the world to be suffering so much as it currently is in the 46 years I’ve been on it.
The players that should have been travelling today and next week are gutted; the parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters that were going to support the players are gutted and trust me, all the ENTP staff are gutted that this pandemic has meant we cannot finish this year’s England programme like we have done in the past.
However, everyone’s safety and ability to get on with our lives in the future, is more important than playing hockey right now!
Every single player that made the travel teams in the various age groups deserved to be there, and can rightly hold their heads high!
Parents – you should be proud of your kids for making these teams.  You should also feel pride for all the hard work these kids have put into their hockey this season!
Even though they haven’t yet got to wear their England shirt, you should also know that they would have done the very best they could have done to gain success as an England player, with their team mates!
These young players are the future of our sport, so make sure you protect them as much as you can.
They could all go on to represent GB at the junior levels, and maybe even further, so please make sure you continue to support them through their hockey career, like you all have done so far!
We are all one big hockey family, and when our paths cross again, and social distancing or self isolations are not everyday words, we can get back to what is important!
It’s never easy to find the right words in situations like this, but hopefully this post has helped…
Stay safe, protect your loved ones and we will see you on the other side!
Thank you to everyone that has been a part of this years programme, and take care!
Coach Pitch

The five England teams were announced earlier in the year, we will publish them again on our social media over this weekend to celebrate everyone’s achievements in being selected.

#LeaveALegacy #BringYourAGame #SeaOfRed