The Guyana National Women’s hockey side departed the shores yesterday to compete in the Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) Cup which will be held in Mendoza, Argentina from Saturday and last for one week.
The event, which features the top eight nations from the 26-member Pan American Federation, serves as the region’s World Cup Qualifier.
It will be the first time that Guyana will be appearing in a hockey PAHF Cup and the first time that the Guyanese women will face Argentina. In a press release issued by the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) President Philip Fernandes, it was stated that the Argentina Ambassador to Guyana, the Honourable Luis A. Martino met with officials of the GHB to discuss the momentous occasion.
It was further stated that discussions have begun on further collaboration between the two countries with regards to the development of the sport in Guyana.
Guyana qualified for the PAHF Cup following their surprise second place finish in the PAHF Challenge in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 2011. During that event, Guyana registered wins against Paraguay and Bermuda, drew with home side Brazil and only lost to eventual winners Uruguay.
The competing sides are world beaters Argentina (ranked second in the world), United States of America (10), Chile (18), Canada (23), Trinidad and Tobago (27), Mexico (30), Uruguay (50) and Guyana (58).
Guyana who is seeded eight in the tourney has been paired with Argentina (1), Canada (4) and Trinidad and Tobago (5) in Pool ‘A’.
The full squad of the 16 players selected are Alysa Xavier, Ulrica Sutherland, Tiffany Solomon, Marisha Rodrigues, Vanessa Pires, Trisha Woodroffe, Marzana Fiedtkou, Leigh Sandison, Ashley DeGroot, Chantelle Fernandes (Captain), Gabriella Xavier, Kerensa Fernandes, Samantha Fernandes, Cora Towler, Aliyah Gordon and Janella Munroe. The team comprises mostly of players who have been competing for Guyana over the past few years with the exception of one new player, 14 year old Gordon who will be the youngest player in the event.
“Aliyah is an exceptional talent” Fernandes noted “She is very quick and skilful and we hope that she performs well”.
“A lot of the team’s success will be placed on the shoulders of our most experienced player, overseas-based midfielder Leigh Sandison, and the defence of goalkeeper Alysa Xavier and sweeper Ulrica Sutherland” stated Fernandes
Fernandes will be tasked with coaching the side while the manager and assistant coach is Rawl Davson and Peter DeGroot respectively.
Guyana will open their campaign against Canada on Saturday 21st at Estadio Malvinas. In their second encounter on Sunday 22nd, they will oppose Trinidad and Tobago. In their final group match, Guyana will face off with home side Argentina on Tuesday 24th.
The winner of the tourney will qualify for the June 2014 Women’s World Cup in Netherlands while the top six finishers will qualify for the 2017 Women’s Pan American Cup.
Teams that finish in the seventh and eighth positions will play in the 2015 Women’s Pan American Challenge.