Hockey Ireland U19 Teams Withdraw from European Championships

Hockey Ireland has announced its decision to withdraw the U19 Boys and Girls National teams from competing in the EuroHockey Federation (EHF) European Championships in Valencia this July. The 2020 U18 EHF Championships were postponed last year, and an additional year was added to the age-group for 2021, making it an U19 event. The EHF distributed the tournament Covid-19 protocols this week and requested a decision from each Nation regarding their ability to travel and compete. Hockey Ireland are aware that a number of other nations have now also withdrawn.

Each nation has different levels of risk within their home country, along with different transport and quarantine requirements. The COVID-19 protocols were restrictive for underage players and costly to all the competing nations. It has been a very difficult decision for Hockey Ireland to make. However, several key factors from the protocols could not be overlooked and has led to this decision:

  • Government Guidelines state that all persons in the Republic of Ireland are advised against non-essential travel to any country. Elite Exemption for travel has only been granted to Hockey Ireland Senior programmes and professional sports teams within Ireland. Unfortunately, our U18 squads do not have elite exemption at this moment in time and are not guaranteed that the elite exemption stance on the U18 squads will change ahead of the tournament.
  • In line with Hockey Ireland safeguarding protocols, underage player and staff welfare is a priority. Hockey Ireland have concerns regarding the length of isolation periods should a player(s) test positive during the tournament or become close contacts, coupled with the fact that many travelling athletes would be U18 and would require an appropriate member of staff to remain nearby the isolation location in order to ensure their welfare.

Speaking on the decision, Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “This matter has been given careful deliberation. This was not an easy decision but one that was made with the players welfare in mind.

Following the decision to withdraw from the EHF European competition, Hockey Ireland have been discussing with the Home Nations regarding matches in July. We will be discussing this further with the management teams and will distribute information as soon as possible.”