Debate continues on hockey's hot topic

THE question of whether umpires were nominated or paid for was a controversial topic at the recent Dubbo Hockey Association general meeting.

The debate was split down the middle on an issue which still hasn't been resolved.

Dubbo Hockey Association president and coach Craig Thompson said there were two conflicting sides of what turned into a heated discussion.

"I see merit in both sides of the argument," he said.

"Some people are saying it's easier to pay somebody to do it, but we still don't know where we'll get those umpires from."

The juniors, Thompson said, didn't want to pay someone to umpire their games, and scrutiny still remained with the issue starting to scare people from nominating.

"Players make mistakes. It seems umpires are being damned and are put under too much pressure... that side of the sport is really suffering at the moment.

"The association will be holding another meeting in March and I hope it can be resolved then."

He said there were also hockey players who wanted to see a combination of nominees and professional umpires.

Another interesting topic that still has players "to-ing and fro-ing" is the fact premier league players can only play the next level down.

Thompson said premier league players who came out of B-Grade could only play in A-Grade and no lower, something many players were concerned about.

There was also much discussion on the restriction of five players to each team at one time, which aimed to make competition fairer.

Team nominations will be accepted until March 1 which will then formulate each grade, and the days/nights they will play.

"So far there are three teams for women (grades A to C) and one for men's grade," Thompson said.

Women's A-Grade will be playing on Tuesday, the juniors and under-15s on Wednesday, women's B-Grade on Thursday, Women's C-Grade on Friday and the juniors, men's grade and women's Premier League on Saturday.

Depending on the numbers, Thompson said the season will start on or after March 16.

Plans for a dedicated veterans' (or Masters) competition are still on the cards, but the DHA would hold off until March, when all grades are finalised.

"At the moment, we're fostering the game with the juniors who are the focus at this stage. We're going to be involved in a small schools program which we're very excited about. We want to bring more kids into the game," Thompson said.

Hockey players who will be competing in the veterans' state championships will travel in a number of vehicles to places like Armidale, Bathurst and Grafton, until the association work towards alternative transport. A meeting was held in Orange on Wednesday to finalise details.

The western conference for juniors will be held in March at Dubbo and volunteers are needed to help with the day.

The next registration day will be held on Saturday from 10am to 1pm at the Pioneer Park hockey complex at Howard Avenue. There will also be a final registration day next Saturday at the same time.

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