A NEW competition name, new committee members and, crucially, new teams. The 2014 Orange Hockey Association men’s premiership is set to transform into a more viable competition for the city’s hockey players.
Joking the biggest change may well be the women taking over the running of the men’s competition, Beth Shea has taken on the role of president and is already confident she’s capable of changing the culture of the sport in Orange.
“I’ve had more involvement with men’s hockey since my twins started playing and I kept hearing people weren’t happy and I thought we were seeing the results of that with dwindling numbers,” Shea said, taking on the role at the end of 2013.
“People just weren’t having fun. They’d forgotten about what hockey is all about and that was reflected in our junior boys being reluctant to make the step up into the division three competition.
“The young guys were holding off a year and then going straight into division two, but it made the jump up too hard.
“I guess I felt obliged to put my hand up,” she said.
“I have a vision about how things can improve and we’ve had meetings with people who have good ideas and we’re putting those ideas into place.”
Ahead of the competition kick-off on Sunday, those ideas include a re-structure of the men’s grades.
With Premier League Hockey deemed the top level in Orange, the top OHA men’s premierships were previously named division two and division three.
That has now changed to division one and division two.
The OHA will also take over the appointment of umpires.
Junior boys games are being held on Wednesday nights and Shea said the committee would look at scheduling men’s matches after junior fixtures mid-week to help build the bond between the young and older players in the men’s game.
“It’s a long term thing,” Shea said of her vision for the game.
“We’re not thinking this will all happen in a year, but we’ve got great support ... Adam Hurford is a prominent figure in men’s hockey now and he’s on board. I feel we’re heading in the right direction.”
Shea was also thrilled a new club would be joining the men’s division two competition in 2014.
That now takes the number of teams to five in division two, with four remaining in the top division one competition.