May 03, 2016 Sports
-beat GCC Selection in a practice game
Less than three weeks remain before the Guyana national under-21 boys hockey team make their first competition appearance against highly rated Chile on May 20th in the 2016 Pan American Junior Championship (Men)
being staged in Toronto Canada.
The team has been preparing for over one year under the guidance of National Men’s Coach Robert Fernandes and is optimistic of a good showing at the Pan American event.
Fernandes is pleased with the effort and progress made by the players in the past several months although he indicated that there still needs to be some improvement in certain aspects of the game.
Fernandes said he intends to focus on set pieces and defensive structure in the final weeks of preparation along with exposing the players to match practices.
The Head coach was high in praise of physical trainer Barrington Brown who has been working with the team for the past four months and whom he credits for the teams high fitness level.
This according to the Coach will factor heavily in a tournament such as the upcoming one, especially when they face big hockey nations that are likely to put pressure on the Guyanese for long spells during matches.
Several players on the squad have gained valuable international experience having competed in the Pan American Challenge in Peru last year where Guyana turned in several fine performances narrowly missing out on a podium finish on penalties.
Among the more experienced players will be 19 year old hockey phenomenon Aroydy Branford, who is currently playing in the United Kingdom and will join the team one week before the trip.
While a great deal of expectations will no doubt be placed on the shoulders of Branford, Fernandes indicated that his absence has made room for other players to step up during training matches and play more influential roles in the team.
One possible setback in the team’s participation has been a clash in the schedule of the tournament with CXC examinations.
The GHB, however, has been receiving kind support from the Ministry of Education in arranging for three players to write their exams at the University of Toronto, thus enabling them to participate in the tournament.
Three of the team’s key starting players are affected by this scheduling and while their academics remains everyone’s priority, it would indeed be a shame for them to lose the opportunity to compete in the once in a lifetime event.
This will be Guyana’s fourth appearance at this competition with its best ever finish being 6th place in 1988 where the team narrowly missed the semi-finals.
According to President of the Guyana Hockey Board, Philip Fernandes, this current team is as well prepared as any he has ever seen out of Guyana. Fernandes indicated that the team has been training together as a squad for a longer time than in the past and for the first time, there are several players who have already had international competition experience.
In addition, Fernandes was high in praise of the national coach and management team whom he says has already showed their competence by solid results in the recent past with the senior men’s team.
Guyana finds itself in Pool B with Canada, Chile and Mexico, while Pool A comprises of Argentina, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.
Argentina is the strong favourite, having never lost the championship in all of its ten years, while Canada and Chile possess the next best records of medal finishes.
Guyana makes its opening appearance against Chile on May 20th then face Mexico on 21st and Canada on 23rd.
The tournament runs from May 20 – 28 with all matches being played at the University of Toronto.
Matches will be streamed live on the Pan American website at www.panamhockey.org.
Meanwhile, the juniors played to an exciting 3-3 draw, before winning the penalty shootout 1-0 against a GCC Selection in a practice game recently, at the Guyana National Stadium.
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