BRACKNELL BEES are celebrating a big victory after the committee working to keep the club in existence was granted the operating licence.
The team is now a step closer to being able to take to the ice once again next season after John Nike, who owns the club, was satisfied enough to let the supporter-led task force take control of running the team.
Those looking after the 29-year-old Bees still have a way to go in their efforts to keep the side alive, however, with the next challenge being to seek approval of both the English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL) and English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) for re-admittance to the 2016/17 competition.
More importantly, though, is the fact the tireless work of those picking up the pieces following the departure of previous licence holders, Precision Sports Marketing (PSM), earlier this year is now beginning to bear fruit.
Lukas Smital, who is part of the committee and Player Head Coach, can begin his recruitment plans in earnest, with it hoped the first player to join the roster will be unveiled next week.
The Czech is understandably delighted with this latest development, telling The Wokingham Paper how his gratitude for all those who have helped the cause goes beyond the imagination.
“I feel good – not so much relieved but appreciative for all of the help from everywhere,” he said.
“You go through stages where you start doubting yourself but I think over the last few days people stepped up massively, not just Bees fans, but the hockey community and it makes you feel like you want to go out there and repay them.
“The other two directors have made an outstanding effort and support has come in from as far as Manchester – the fans have been so supportive.
“We cannot get carried away, though, because there is still a lot of work to do, but the first big hurdle is behind us now.
“It is not just about the off season, but during the season too and to just keep reaching our goals, which is to make this club level footed – not just for one season, but to make some stability for future Bees as well.”
While overwhelmed by the levels of support shown to the club in recent weeks, Smital also paid homage to those players who have been patiently waiting for news on Bees’ future.
Some, he explained, also persuaded the forward to carry on playing for at least another season.
“The players have been outstanding and patient,” added 41-year-old Smital.
“A few have decided to go elsewhere but the others have been hanging on, and that shows they have trust in what we are doing and have great respect for this club, which is pretty amazing.”
The battle will resume next Wednesday (June 8) when the club will sit down with league officials.
Those rooting for the rescue effort to be a success come from far and wide, and will no doubt have everything crossed once again for another positive outcome.
Smital said: “If you don’t go through things like that then you will probably never find out how strong the support is.
“My thanks goes beyond everyone’s imagination.
“It is incredible to see just how much this means to them, not just here in Bracknell, but across the whole hockey family.”
A crowd funding page set up to help the effort now totals at almost £8,000.
If you wish to make a contribution, click here or visit www.gba.podiumpartners.org/campaign/75-save-the-bracknell-bees.
Further information, including Season Member Card forms, can also be found on the Save the Bees Facebook page.