OXFORD City Stars’ young players may not have seen an ice rink in months, but they are still working on their skills.

It is all thanks to Darren Elliott, who oversees the club’s junior section.

He has particular responsibility for the under nines and under 13s, who have been receiving weekly training sessions online through Zoom from the Stars legend.

And they have been so successful he has broadened it out to anyone involved with a team in a class every other week.

Elliott said: “It just started with the under nines because I thought it would be good to have some

face-to-face contact.

“We had a bit of a chat, made sure they were doing their homework, then we had a little stretch and some fitness work.

“That first Zoom meeting was quite overwhelming. The kids were all so happy to see each other again.

“They miss each other.

“I try to get them in their team shirts when they do it, whatever you can do to get it like it was before.”

It has led to suggestions he is Stars’ version of Joe Wicks, the fitness coach who has run daily workouts on Youtube during lockdown.

“That’s what some of the under nines have said,” Elliott laughed.

“Maybe in a way, but I’m slightly less good-looking and not in as good shape.”

The sessions may be aimed at having fun, but there is a point to them as well.

Stars are keen to put more of an emphasis on developing their own talent as a way to punch above their weight.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has led to tightening of belts for the senior set-up, while next season’s start date is also up in the air.

Stars have already said restarting behind closed doors makes no sense financially and while Elliott’s players in the youth set-up are still some way off making the step up, it reinforces the value of bringing through local players.

He said: “Now I’m not playing, the next thing for me is to make sure senior hockey in Oxford is maintained.

“The only way that happens is by making sure we develop things through that junior system.

“It was going to be tough before this kicked off.

“The kids will have been off the ice for so long, but everyone’s in the same boat.

“I love doing these sessions.

“When all this lockdown started you think it’s nice to have a little break, but very quickly you miss it.”

During the lockdown Stars have appointed Dean Birrell as their head coach.

It was no surprise to Elliott, who had worked with him at Chelmsford and recommended the role.

He said: “Dean contacted me to see what the club’s like, I did my bit and said it’s all good.

“He’s a well-known highly-rated coach and to have him in Oxford is massive, not just for the Stars but for me as well.

“He’s more experienced and to have someone like him to learn from is great.”