Selectors of the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) have chosen the final 18 players who will make the national female team and earn a chance to represent Guyana at the inaugural Pan America Hockey Federation (PAHF) Challenge to be held from July 30 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The final 18 were named following months of intense training that the squad has been undergoing since March this year in preparation for the event. The training for the girls peaked with a training camp that the team attended from July 1 – 4 at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua in Trinidad and Tobago.
According to a release from the GHB, Chantelle Fernandes has been named team captain while Ulrica Sutherland will take up the position of vice-captain.
The Challenge is a competition introduced as a channel for teams to qualify for participation in the PAHF Cup which further acts as an entry point for the Hockey World Cup which will next be held in June 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. The top two teams at the Challenge will be eligible to participate in the PAHF Cup.
Argentina, Chile, the USA, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico have all already qualified for the next hosting of the PAHF Cup in 2013, while the remaining two spots at the 8 team Cup are expected to be filled by the qualifiers from the PAHF Challenge.
And while the Challenge features competitions for both the male and female sides Guyana will only be able to send the female side given the financial constraints of the GHB.
The squad has been preparing at the National Gymnasium on Mandela Avenue, the GCC Ground and they were also afforded a few mornings of practice at the National Stadium at Providence.
However coach for the team, Phillip Fernandes admitted that not being able to do most of the team’s training on an artificial pitch does put them at a disadvantage.
Nevertheless, every effort has been made by the GHB to afford the team training time on the best grass surfaces locally, including the use of the national gymnasium which is more similar to such surfaces as the official artificial pitch which all international hockey matches are played on.
“It is always tough to have to go to Trinidad to train, but it is also a necessity as the artificial surface is so different from any playing area that we have in Guyana,” Fernandes said earlier this month.
Teams that will also be participating in the Challenge include the hosts Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bermuda. According to the tournament schedule posted on the official website (www.panamhockey.org), Guyana faces Paraguay in their opening match on July 31 followed by Brazil on August 1, Bermuda on August 3 and finally Uruguay on August 6.
After the pool round, teams will contest the final placement matches on August 7, including the final.
Of the teams in the tournament, Guyana has only played Brazil and Bermuda before. They lost all three matches against Brazil in 2005 and drew with Bermuda at the CAC Games in 2010. Uruguay is the favourite for the tournament while Paraguay is the lowest seeded team. Members selected for the team are as follows:
Goalkeepers – Jonelle Webster and Alysa Xavier
Defenders – Ulrica Sutherland (vice-captain), Marzana Fiedtkou, Talia Fiedtkou, Vashema Bourne, Marisha Rodrigues, Tiffany Solomon
Midfielders – Trisha Woodroffe, Maria Munroe, Leigh Sandison, Chantelle Fernandes (Captain) and Gabriella Xavier.
Strikers – Avonda James, Ashley DeGroot, Dominique DeGroot, Amanda Garnett and Kerensa Fernandes.