– teams expected from Canada, USA, and T&TBy Rawle Welch
Dubbed the biggest event on the hockey calendar, this year’s Diamond Mineral Water International Indoor Tournament which begins tomorrow, with both morning and evening sessions, is expected to attract a minimum of over 100 foreigners including participating teams and visitors.
This is according to an official from the Organising Committee, who disclosed that teams will be coming from Canada, the United States of America (USA) and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to battle local clubs for supremacy in the four-day event.
The defending champions are Everest Hikers (Men) and GCC (Women), but with all the teams enjoying early and thorough preparations, some of them even choosing to hold a mini-encampment, they will be hard pressed to duplicate last year’s performances.
Hikers, even though they’ve won just one senior competition this year seemed to struggle at times, especially during the period star player Jerazeno Bell got injured and when you couple that with the absence of another experience player in Marc King who’ve since migrated, it is easy to see why they haven’t looked at their best.
However, with the projected return to fitness of Bell, who was voted last year’s Most Valuable Player and top goal-scorer as well as inspirational leader Timothy McIntosh’s inclusion after missing a few tournaments, they still have a strong pedigree of players to bolster their chances of retaining the title.
The young brigade of Shane Samuels, Randy Hope and Robert France have all performed creditably this year and this, perhaps, is a testimony to their maturity, so it will be interesting to see how they maintain their focus and intensity throughout the tournament against teams that are just as prepared and eager to do well.
Another dangerous player who can be a threat to opposing defenders is Alex Gouveia, while as always, Devin Munroe’s savvy dribbling and pinpoint passes could provide the edge against the best of teams.
On the distaff side, GCC as defending champions should start as favourites and with the recent success of their Under-21 unit which recently won the Magnolias Indoor Competition in the Twin Island Republic, it should reinforce their confidence, despite the brave decision Coach Phillip Fernandes made to invest in the young players.
They will be severely tested against more experienced teams, but with the natural talent of players such as Gabriella and Alysa Xavier, Marzana and Thalia Fiedtkou, Briana Gordon, Dominique and Ashley DeGroot combining with the experience of Tricia Fiedtkou, Trisha Woodroffe, last year’s MVP Tiffany Solomon, Shebeki Baptiste and Brennette Gordon the probability of them retaining the crown seems likely.
Hikers of Guyana are also a formidable club, but have been struggling because of a lack of facility and this development could end up hurting their chances of reigning supreme in the tournament.
However, they’ve proven over the years to perform better in adversity and underestimating them could be to the detriment of any team.
National Captain Maria Munroe is still as potent a force as any in the land, while Marisha Rodrigues, Avonda James, Cora Towler and Amanda Garnette are all seasoned campaigners with loads of experience.
Trinidad and Tobago are the powerhouses of hockey in the Caribbean, possessing a number of players who play for colleges in the USA so they are expected to provide stiff opposition for the local clubs.
Apart from the Trinidadians, not much is known of the teams from Canada and the USA, but what is known is that both countries usually have excellent standards and it would be surprising if they are found in the mix.
All in all, judging from the preparations all the teams have made, it would be correct to say that the stakes are high.
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