Covid-19 requirements have led to the introduction of a new sport – Tackle Free Hockey, which is played 5-a-side and combines elements of netball and basketball.
The game was designed by Hibiscus Hockey Trust chair and Masters player Merv Huxford.
The game introduces player zones (like netball) to avoid tackles, and time restrictions on scoring (like basketball).
The game debuted with youth players at the Hibiscus Hockey turfs in Millwater on May 17 and Merv says it was a way to keep things contact-free under Alert Level 2.
The young players came back for more the following weekend and when the Takapuna Premier Men’s team Men tried it, Merv says all of them, including Blackstick George Muir found it very effective.
The game begins with the goalie kicking the ball to one of their two midfielders, without opposing strikers intercepting it – midfielders can only operate between halfway and their own 25.
The midfielders work with each other, always 2m apart, to get a pass to one of their strikers – opposing midfielders attempt to intercept that pass.
Strikers can combine to try and score but have just 10 seconds to do so and must not come within 2m of the goalie.
Merv says virtually no umpiring is required because there is no tackling, obstruction or dangerous play.
The only infringements are if the ball contacts a foot, or a player moves outside their zone.
Because of the rebound walls, there are no ‘outs’ and the game just continues until a goal is scored.
“Under Level 2, we are the only turf in North Harbour that has a satisfactory set up for team trainings and 5-a-side games,” he says. “Three premier clubs from the North Shore have booked for training too.”
He says the keenness of the kids to play this modified game, indicates that Hockey Hibiscus could programme it in as a new regular competition for the next couple of months, regardless of the Alert Level.
“Some parents watching from the sidelines have already asked for that.”