National U-19 hockey team wings out for T&T tour today 

—Fernandes eye early preparations for Pan Am U-21, senior C/Ship 

Robert Fernandes along with part of the squad after their practice session ahead of their T&T tour (Royston Alkins photo)

The executives of the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) have kick-started 2019 with a bold initiative by sending a National male under-19 Hockey Team to participate in two championships in Trinidad and Tobago. 

The initiative is touted as a development one with an eye on the 2020 junior and senior Pan Am games.

The Guyanese, who will be under the guides of coach Robert Fernandes, will participate in the Ventures International Indoor Hockey Championship from January 3-6, 2019.

They will then enjoy a three-day break, during which they will use the artificial turf at the University of the West Indies (UWI) as added preparations before swinging into action again when the UWI indoor championship commences from January 10 – 13, 2019. 

“It’s a developmental tour and its more about learning, the international experience and for a lot of them, it will be the first time they will be playing on artificial turf,” Fernandes told Stabroek Sport on the heels of the team’s departure. 

Delving further into the continuum of the GHB’s development agenda, Fernandes underscored the importance of blooding and exposing Guyana’s emerging talents to high-level hockey ahead of the Pan Am senior and junior tournaments. 

He further disclosed that a number of the shortlisted players set to tour Trinidad could feature at both the junior and senior championships Pan Am championship in 2020, since quite a number of the current senior national players are at the backend of their careers, hence the calculated approach.

“What we decided to is investing in the next wave of indoor players. After the last Pan Am indoor championship in 2017 which we hosted, a few of those players were at the end of their careers so what we wanted to do is give the… players who will be pushing their way into the senior team some international exposure in time for 2020.”

The early preparation, according to the National Coach, fits within the aspirations of the Board to have Guyana qualify for the next Indoor World Cup.

For that to happen, Fernandes explained that Guyana would need to win the Pan Am championships which would guarantee a place. 

Only Canada and Trinidad and Tobago (2018) have ever represented the Pan Am region at the World Cup. 

Touching on the composition of the squad, Fernandes expressed optimism in the strides and heights his young team can attain. 

He was especially fond of Kareem McKenzie – one of the players with international experience – goalkeeper Paul D’Andrade, and Omar Hopkinson who have all “been phenomenal locally, and will be critical for the under – 21 programme.” 

Senior national player Jamarj Assanah will also tour and play with the youngsters. 

The full squad reads: Paul D’Andrade (GK), Omar Hopkinson, Warren Williams, Nandalall Persaud, Kareem McKenzie, Meshach Sargeant, Samuel Woodroffe, Tevisarid Garnett, Shomere Garnett, Nickel Ashby, Shakeem Fausette, Jamarj Assanah and Coach Robert Fernandes.

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