Hockey Wanganui Inc hopes to have teams getting back onto the green maize at Gonville within the next month, as a season which was already going to see changes now adjusts to Covid-19 reality.
The disestablishing of the regional Central Hockey body, which had its own development programmes and representative teams head to national tournaments, has now been replaced by an alliance of the associations from that region, including Whanganui, who link in with Wellington and Wairarapa.
Before the pandemic, senior club hockey would normally have gotten underway in April for the Whanganui Men's and Women's teams who travel to compete in the Manawatu Hockey premier grades.
The Whanganui Men, miffed to be relegated to the new-look Premier Reserve grade last year, breezed through it with team straight wins to claim the title, before moving into a four-team Premier B grade for the latter half of the season.
They finished runnerup to High School Hockey Club A, who had been relegated from Premier, to join them in qualifying to go back up to the top grade this year.
The Whanganui Women moved up to Premier last year and were eliminated in the semifinals of their grade.
Hockey Wanganui operations manager Robbie Matthews confirmed both Whanganui sides will play in the top Manawatu grades once they get the go ahead to resume.
"We're just checking we'll be able to field a [women's] team. If anyone's really keen to play.
"There's a lot of university students that play in the Manawatu, and unfortunately they're struggling to get enough teams for that, especially for the women's.
"Massey University may not be able to field a team, because all of their students are back in their homes until next term.
"If there are any university students [in Whanganui] who want to play, the associations have agreed they can start playing in a local competition, until such time as they go back.
"They'll just get transferred, so there's no extra expense for them, we just want them back playing hockey."
The Whanganui men's team does have the numbers and are waiting to get back onto the training pitch once Level 2 restrictions are lifted.
While there are unlikely to be any Hockey Wanganui representative teams this year with the national tournaments suspended, Matthews was hopeful the top teenaged players in town will still get their chance to shine on a bigger stage.
"We've got three secondary school teams that are in that top tier – two are Rankin [Cup and India Shield] boys and the other is Fed Cup girls, the top secondary school tournaments.
"Hockey NZ and a lot of other sports have canned all their national tournaments, but secondary school potentially is still going ahead, but we won't know until about June 8.
"That's actually run by the NZ Secondary Schools association."
The Whanganui Collegiate 1st XI boys and girls teams qualified to move up to the top tier last season, with the girls winning the Chica Gilmer Trophy and the boys finishing runnerup in the Founders Cup during Tournament Week in September.
The Whanganui High School 1st XI boys obtained their goal of staying at Rankin Cup level by finishing third in the consolation India Shield playoffs, which was 19th overall for the best school teams in the country.
Even if schools are not able to travel outside their regions for Tournament Week this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, Matthews said there could be an equivalent competition, thanks to Wairarapa schools now also competing in the Manawatu.
"There is effectively going to be five Rankin teams playing in that secondary school competition this year.
"If the Rankin Cup, the tournaments don't go ahead, we've already been talking with Hockey NZ and all the regions that within our region 'bubble', we'll still have potentially a tournament of some sort.
"The best outcome that has happened within this whole Covid thing is all the associations meet with Hockey NZ once a week on Zoom, and then we follow that up with what we call the Southern North Island Regions association - which is basically all Central but Wellington and Wairapapa have joined us.
"There's just been some really cool sharing of resources, and looking at how we can keep developing the Central concept in the development of our players in tournaments.
"We're certainly on track for making sure we're providing really good hockey for community and still for our supposedly rep players, who won't get the opportunity to play this year, that there's still opportunities with them to development."
Matthews was to have a meeting with other Hockey Whanganui officials on Monday night about a start date for the local scene at McDonald's Stadium.
Senior and secondary school could begin in June, while junior hockey may take a little longer due to the large numbers, which may not be allowed under Level 1-2 restrictions.