Head Coach of the female hockey squad, Philip Fernandes, speaking with Kaieteur Sport about the preparations of the national female hockey squad, which is currently preparing to participate in the upcoming Pan Am Hockey Federation Challenge Cup, said that despite the inadequacies, the players are responding positively.
The tournament, which is scheduled to be staged in Rio de Janiero, Brazil from July 30-August 7, is a newly instituted tournament which serves as a qualifier for the highly regarded World Cup qualifier, the Pan American Cup.
The top six teams in the Pan American region have already qualified for the Cup and so the PAHF Challenge will be a battle among the remaining teams for the final two positions.
Guyana, it is anticipated will have a difficult task competing against several teams that are ranked higher on the Pan American table. They include Uruguay, Cuba, Brazil, Barbados and Jamaica among others. While Guyana has never played against Uruguay and Cuba, in their last meeting they lost to both Brazil (2005) and Jamaica (2010) and have drawn against Barbados (2010).
Fernandes disclosed that the ladies are currently training at both the GCC and National Gymnasium, but training at the GCC has been temporarily suspended until after the Guyana versus Pakistan match.
Describing the sessions, Fernandes said that since the Gymnasium is primarily being used, there is a heavy focus on technical artificial turf skills which may be difficult to perform on grass.
According to him, players are therefore expected to use this time to perfect their individual skill work and techniques in deflections, sweep hits, receptions with an immediate change in direction, improving their first touch etc.
In two weeks time, the Head Coach pointed out that training will take on more of a team concept focus which emphasizes the tactical aspects of the game.
“While the grass fields cannot replicate the conditions of an artificial playing surface, they provide the necessary space needed to practice the tactics of a full-field match. This unfortunately cannot be done in the Gymnasium as it only has the size of ¼ of a hockey field. In the tactical practices, focus will be placed on team defence and the roles of each line (forwards, midfield and defence), channelling and reducing the space in the playing area of the opposition, defending counterattacks, attacking patterns, counterattacking etc,” Fernandes stated.
Since the beginning of training in April, the ladies have been undergoing physical training as well, including interval training, fartlek running and wind sprints.
This year also the coaching staff has placed greater emphasis on power training, a feature they refer to as aerobic power training.
According to the head coach, the athletes, while being well conditioned in the past seemed to lack the power to match that of the top teams as the matches progressed into the final stages.
During the final two months (June and July) the training will also include set pieces such as penalty corners, long corners and penalty strokes and there will be an increase in practice matches in order to give the team the necessary match practice needed to compete in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the names of the players called are as follows: Alysa Xavier, Natalie Hing, Jonelle Webster, Trisha Woodroffe, Tiffany Solomon, Vashema Bourne, Tricia Fiedtkou, Marzena Fiedtkou, Talia Fiedtkou, Marisha Rodrigues, Maria Munroe, Chantelle Fernandes, Amanda Garnett, Ulrica Sutherland, Gabriella Xavier, Dominique DeGroot, Kerensa Fernandes, Avonda James, Leigh Sandison, Samantha Fernandes, Macaela Harding and Ashley DeGroot.
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