By Rawle Welch
The sport over the past year has enjoyed a shift in fortune, while many of the local teams and national units have followed suit with some encouraging results as well so when the GCC Flora Under-21 Ladies team left these shores to participate in the Magnolias International Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago recently, persons close to the sport expected a good performance.
Returning to the tournament as three-time defending champions and despite the loss of a couple key players from last year, the youthful GCC Flora unit under the expert guidance of Head Coach Philip Fernandes produced another stunning display to retain the title for another year.
They were up against opponents who play consistently at facilities far more superior to those that our girls are exposed to and just as the senior team had done when they qualified for the World Cup for the Americas, the PAHF Cup which will be staged in Argentina in 2013, they rose to the occasion once again and showed what an excellent team they are and why the sport like so many others locally should be given far more support that it enjoys currently.
This bunch of dedicated athletes have sacrificed much in an effort to enhance their skills to compete at a higher level, while the same could be said about Coach Fernandes, who during many conversations with the media spoke of his own sacrifice and dedication to produce a crop of players that could represent this country with distinction both regionally and internationally.
He said that he was very impressed with the commitment and receptive capabilities of the young players, attributes he said were important for them to develop into solid players.
Fernandes, who has played a pivotal role in keeping the sport alive, especially among the females, though not too keen on identifying players for special mention was forced to recognise the performance of goalkeeper Alysa Xavier.
According to him, Xavier’s heroics between the uprights was outstanding, adding that it was her brilliant saves in the penalty shootout that won the game and fourth title.
He said he is extremely satisfied with the growth and maturity of the young players and feels confident that most of them, except in the case of migration, will go on to wear senior national colours.
Presently a few of them have already donned the national uniform and if they stay committed to the sport according to Fernandes, he sees no reason why they should not transform their talent into the senior squad and perhaps be serious contenders for a spot on the team for the 2013 campaign.
Players such as the Xavier siblings Gabriella and Alysa, Ashley DeGroot, the Fiedtkou sisters, who missed the tournament due to being overseas and a few others from the current team, could be in the mix for a place on the national team in the near future.
One thing is certain, Fernandes seems to be enjoying his stint with the female setup and with his vast amount of knowledge, having benefitted from numerous high level coaching courses, Guyana as they’ve already shown over the past year, could be a very formidable opponent for any of the regional territories, but that is providing they get the necessary exposure consistently to play at the highest level.
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