Amidst the hype and tension of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Elections, the Guyana men’s and women’s hockey teams arrived in the twin-island republic yesterday for the inaugural PAHF Caribbean Hockey championships set to bully off tomorrow at the National Hockey Centre in Port-of Spain.
The 41-member delegation comprising players, coaching staff and tournament officials left Guyana yesterday morning for the tournament which also features the national teams of Barbados, Jamaica and host Trinidad and Tobago.
Philip Fernandes, Presid-ent of the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) said the tournament was very important to Guyana’s hockey development and that playing against Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, two highly ranked international teams, would be a real test for the Guyanese.
“The men are an experienced lot. We opted to go with experience as the short preparation time would not have given us sufficient time to groom our juniors for this level.
We hope at this tournament to secure a good ranking for Guyana so we could be once again invited to compete in the major regional tournaments such as the CAC Games and therefore qualify perhaps for the Pan Am Games,” Fernandes disclosed.
He said that while the team had a lot of experienced players, a few young players were included for the exposure.
The next major senior tournament will be the Pan American Cup in 2009 and so there is a gap in senior competition which we hope will give us sufficient time for the younger crop to improve to international levels.
The women, on the other hand, will be exposed to receive a stern test especially in their first match of the tournament against Barbados tomorrow morning at 08:00 hours in what is expected to be a baptism of fire.
Fernandes, who is the coach of the women’s team, lamented the inexperience of the players eight of whom were making their international debut while ten had played at the international level for the first time last year.
The Guyanese men will go into action later tomorrow against Barbados at 15:00 hours.
“Sunburst orange juice has sponsored the men’s uniform and is therefore the largest single contributor to the men’s team while the women’s uniform were sponsored by Neal & Massy last year and they gave us $50,000 this year towards the trip.
“Also, there are quite a few organizations and businesses who have contributed significantly who we will acknowledge in a meaningful way on our return,” he added.
The tournament runs from tomorrow to Sunday with four matches daily.