It is no easy task to take the positive out of 2020, but Dundee Stars general manager and head coach Omar Pacha has a strong reason to do so after his son’s birth last month.
After working for a year to keep the name of the Stars in the public eye in Tayside following the cancellation of the elite league until at least September, thanks to little Mika, who keeps him busier than normal, Pacha’s perspective on life is a bit different.
Pacha chuckled, “The time off has allowed me the extra time to spend with my new son, and I’m grateful for that, but I’m also programmed to be busy,” Fatherhood is a blessing and every moment is dear to you, but I’m used to being involved in work and field hockey.
That’s something I really try to do, and I know that you can get lonely at times if you’re not busy. My son is certainly keeping me busy right now, and that’s a positive way to look at things.
“He’s given me a different perspective on life. Off the ice, we’ve done everything we can to work on our relationship with the fans. After growing our crowds the last few years, it was important to maintain that, but from a personal standpoint, having a child has brought new emotions.”
After attendance had increased in the past three seasons, retaining the bond with fans was vital to Dundee. Pacha and his team worked out how to sustain interest when the pandemic struck and anything hockey-related came to a screeching halt.
They put on a live Hogmanay show to welcome visitors and even some music in the new year, and acted as a good contrast to the offering from Susan Calman and the BBC – something a hockey club has never seen before.
Pacha knows how important it is to create this kind of material, and since joining the club in 2017, having worked hard to bring people in Dundee to the games, it’s something he doesn’t want to see lost.
“We’ve tried different things to keep our interaction with fans going,” he said. For example, we did a live online show at Hogmanay that was well received, I think we were able to innovate in different areas.
We have looked at other clubs in this sport to see how our club can develop. Some teams across the league have done some positive stuff to keep things rolling. Cardiff and Glasgow have posted interviews online daily.
“But we make it a point to keep the engagement going so we’re not clueless when we take something back and we’re not in a position where we have to sell something again.”
There are some obstacles for Pacha to conquer, with all ten Elite League teams expected to play in September, but he maintains he and his team will be ready when it’s time to start planning properly.
The most important thing is,”The most important thing is that we can’t wait to get started, and we’re ready,”that we can’t wait to start, and we’re ready. You still want to look forward when you have the time, and we’ve looked at what we want to do. It comes down to having the fans involved in the role of general manager and keeping things going.
“It’s going to be a huge deal the way we get people back. There are leagues being played elsewhere in the world on the athletic side, so I can keep an eye on that and the market,” he said.
“It’s a mental challenge, and even though this is usually the busiest time of year, it’s fun to spend Christmas and New Year’s with family.”