Michelle Stevenson has this week been unveiled as the new Premier League Hockey boss and that doesn’t look to be the only change for the region’s flagship hockey title race in 2019.
Taking over from Kent Bestwick, the Orange-based Stevenson says she’ll seriously consider a proposal to make the men’s competition a fortnightly one, with gala days being staged every two weeks at different locations across the region.
Stevenson is only new to her PLH role but has over two decades worth of administrative experience with Orange Hockey Incorporation and believes change is always worth considering.
“It’s designed to keep more men in the competition,” Stevenson said of the men’s proposal.
Premiers Lithgow Panthers, runners-up Bathurst Souths, Bathurst St Pat’s, Lithgow Zig Zag and Orange Wanderers will be joined by Parkes United in the 2019 men’s premiership race.
“As it is, the women’s competition runs pretty well on a weekly basis with amount of teams in it and all of the associations seem to back it,” Stevenson added.
… any change is worth a try.New PLH president Michelle Stevenson.
“But I think a change could work for the men. It might bring more men back into the competition, and Parkes is already one of those teams returning.
“We can only go off what players are asking for, so we’ll look at it for sure."
Stevenson said she’s spoken to men’s PLH players, and the majority believe a move away from the rigours of week-to-week hockey will strengthen the standard in the top flight.
And those that want to play each week can continue to play at an association level, which in turn benefits that level of the sport, too.
“I know the men think it’s a good idea,” she said, adding it was encouraging to see players come up with new ideas for the PLH.
“It is because we’re basically here for the players and to make a competition we need the players. If they’re coming up with ideas it’s worth a try.
“All sports are trying. In tennis there’s Fast4 and cricket has T20 … any change is worth a try.”
Long-serving PLH secretary Pam Shuttle will continue in her committee role in 2019 while Fiona Reith is the women’s vice president.
Stevenson said the PLH committee was still looking for a men’s vice president, and given the looming change a players’ voice would be a welcome one on this year’s executive.
“Hopefully someone can stand up there,” Stevenson added.
On top of the men’s proposal, Stevenson said improved umpire depth and competitive teams across both PLH competitions would be an ideal 2019.
Team nominations will be taken up until the end of January.
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