Camp taught us a lot, despite losses – Fernandes
Despite the losses, National Women’s Hockey Coach Philip Fernandes in a release to the media said he felt that the three-day camp in Trinidad and Tobago was successful, served its purpose and taught them a lot.
Fernandes, who along with Assistant Rawl Davson accompanied the Ladies to the Twin Island Republic, disclosed that the whole aim of their sojourn was to get valuable practice on the artificial turf and to get a true assessment of the team’s current standard ahead of the Central American & Caribbean Games which is scheduled for July 22-31 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
As part of the team’s preparations, they also intend to travel to Barbados in June for a similar camp, before leaving for the Games itself.
According to the Coach, even though the team had been in training locally for several months, the lack of an artificial pitch has made it critical for the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) to budget for these overseas camps.
He said that the team spent as much time on the artificial turf as possible while in T&T since they needed to make the most of their short time there.
Fernandes considered T&T a suitable venue for the camp since it is the least expensive island to visit that has an artificial turf and also its team is the top ranked team in Central America and the Caribbean.
“Apart from keeping our cost down, matches against Trinidad gave us valuable exposure against the toughest competition that we will face at the CAC Games. We were able to see exactly where we stand in terms of our quality of play, and how much more we have to put in.
The Trinidadians as it turned out were a far superior side which did not surprise us, but the important thing for us was to try to quickly adapt both to the surface and to the challenges presented by facing such a tough opponent,” he mentioned.
The team flew in to the twin-island republic early on Friday morning went directly to the pitch from the airport and had a lengthy training session for the remainder of the morning.
Later that evening, the Guyanese ladies played what would be the first international match on an artificial pitch for several members and lost a one-sided battle to a powerful Trinidadian side.
With the hosts strengthened recently by the return of six overseas-based players, they were clearly the more comfortable of the two teams on the pitch, while the Guyanese were nervous at the start and showed their inexperience, conceding easy goals in the opening minutes.
According to Fernandes, even though they settled down a bit as the match went on, it proved beyond them to stop the Trinidadian onslaught and the tiredness of the long day eventually took a further toll on their ability to contain the speedy star striker of Trinidad, Blair Wynne, who finished with a hat-trick of goals.
After the following morning’s practice, a much improved Guyana side managed a 1-1 draw against a combined club side of Checkers and Magnolias.
Despite improved ball movement and control in midfield, the Guyanese failed to make use of their chances up front with their lone goal coming off a penalty corner strike by centre forward Kerensa Fernandes.
The final match against the Trinidadian national side saw an improved Guyana enjoy a bit more possession than the first tie between the two sides, but the Trinidadians still dominated the match with a 6-0 victory.
When asked about the one-sided outcomes of the matches against the T&T nationals, Coach Fernandes expressed a bit of disappointment and indicated that he had hoped the girls could have adjusted faster to the conditions.
He was quick to point to the quality of the Trinidadians who played a good brand of hockey and had a broad base of experienced players on the pitch at all times.
“While we are more competitive with the locally based Trinidadians, the addition of their overseas-based players clearly set them apart from us.
Nevertheless it was a most beneficial exercise for our ladies who I am still confident can compete with many of the teams that will be in Puerto Rico. Our girls still have a lot of work to put in, but they showed a great deal of improvement with just a few training sessions on the artificial surface. We have identified a number of areas in which there is need for improvement and along with the exposure to the artificial surface I would say that we met our primary goal.
The challenge now will be to ensure that the players maintain their confidence and realise that with hard work over the next six weeks, they can still produce good results at the Games.”
Guyana is ranked 8th out of as many teams going into the games while Trinidad is the number 1 seed. The two teams are both placed in group A along with 4th ranked Bermuda and 5th ranked Barbados.
Group B comprises of Mexico (2), Jamaica (3), Puerto Rico (6) and the Dominican Republic (7).
The Guyanese ladies now have three weeks in which to prepare for their second and final weekend camp to train on an artificial pitch which will be in Barbados.