Ipswich hockey umpire Murray Rogers keeps a close watch on safety aspects of the game during last year’s Ipswich A-grade grand final between Easts and Hancocks.
Ipswich hockey umpire Murray Rogers keeps a close watch on safety aspects of the game during last year’s Ipswich A-grade grand final between Easts and Hancocks. Claudia Baxter

Safety-first Ipswich code

AS Ipswich regional hockey players prepare for another weekend of matches at Raceview, many would be mindful of last weekend's tragedy in Perth.

State league player Lizzie Watkins collapsed unconscious on the field and later died after the ball deflected off her stick and hit her on the back of the head.

Senior Ipswich Hockey Association figures agreed it was a freak accident and reassured participants that player safety was paramount at local level.

IHA president Margret Mantell said her association follows Hockey Queensland's policies and the FIH Rule Book, which makes a number of recommendations.

"Similarly, Hockey Queensland adopts Hockey Australia's policies," she said. "I know they've just adopted Hockey Australia's Member Protection Policy.

"We do the same thing rather than reinvent the wheel."

Mantell said HQ's Operations Manual contained particular references to player safety, including equipment people should be wearing and appropriate procedures.

For example, if a player receives attention on the field from a trainer or receives a head knock, they are required to leave the field for a minimum of two minutes to be monitored.

"In this case (in Perth), from what I understand, it was a ball deflecting up off her own stick.

"But as we all know, no safety policy would protect players from freak accidents."

Experienced Ipswich umpire and school sports administrator Murray Rogers shared that view.

"It has probably unnerved a lot of people to hear it," the former Ipswich Hockey Umpires Association president said.

"If you go through all sports across all age groups, history probably shows there is at some stage a freak accident in all of them.

"It's the one thing you probably can't legislate for and the one thing you probably can't have contingencies for.

"But hockey is one of the safest sports when you look at the overall number of injuries."

What safety equipment hockey players use is a personal choice.

Most players, at all levels, wear mouthguards and shin pads.

Headgear is allowed to be worn, as are face masks and a box during penalty corners when drag flicks and shots are fired at the defensive cordon.

Mantell said Ipswich Hockey provided safety equipment for all its senior representative teams.

"We always encourage people to have all the protective equipment, including correct footwear, shin guards, mouthguards, etc," Ipswich men's representative coach Nathan Hooper said.

"And our training of umpires to stop both deliberate and non-deliberate dangerous play is very good as well."

Mantell reminded incorporated clubs about the importance of having first-aid kits available in their dugouts.



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