Diamond Mineral Water Indoor Hockey Festival tips off Wednesday
By Avenash Ramzan
Sixteen local and foreign teams will clash in three categories from Wednesday (November 22) when the 13th annual Diamond Mineral Water International Indoor Hockey Festival gets underway at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
The longest running indoor hockey festival in the Caribbean will involve four teams from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados with the others coming from the host nation. President of the Guyana Hockey Board, Philip Fernandes, boasted that the tournament is a prominent feature on the local sports calendar.
He pointed out that it played a significant role in Guyana being awarded the Pan Am Indoor Hockey Championship, which was successfully hosted here for the first time last October.
“As you know, Guyana recently staged a successful Indoor Pan American Cup. More than one official and participant approached me after its conclusion saying that it was the best one ever. The ability of the Guyana Hockey Board to successfully stage such a large event is in no small way related to the Diamond Mineral Water Indoor Hockey Festival. The Pan Am Hockey Federation sent a senior representative down to Guyana as far back as 2006 to observe the festival and it was the quality and sustainability of this event that gave the Pan American Federation confidence in Guyana,” Fernandes indicated.
Fernandes reasoned that corporate support has been crucial in not just sustaining the premier indoor hockey tournament in Guyana, but also raising the profile of the game.
“Guyana is now on the regional map for hockey and its name on the tip of the tongues of all those who visited. We are happy to have our Platinum sponsor, Demerara Distillers Limited, with us today, and who has been with us from the inception of this tournament. Back in 2004, Diamond Mineral Water took a risk with hockey and that has paid off greatly in terms of the success that this event has become,” Fernandes stated.
He continued, “Our Gold sponsor Ansa McAl came on board two years after the inaugural festival and have stuck with us since then. The veteran’s teams from overseas finds the largest participation of foreign teams this year and always features teams who maximize the enjoyment of their visit over a few cold Caribs.”
Despite not having the number of foreign teams as compared to previous years due to recent hosting of the Pan Am championship, Fernandes still envisages a highly competitive tournament featuring top sides from Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Queens Park Hockey Club of Trinidad and Tobago, who were finalists in 2013 and 2016, return for another crack at the gold. The quality side boasts a few of the national players, including Akim Toussant and Jordan Reynos, who made up part of the successful team that took the Pan Am gold in October right here at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. Local sides the Pepsi Hikers, Old Fort, GCC and Saints will all fancy their chances in this year’s festival with each having players exposed to the recent Pan Am Indoor,” Fernandes explained.
He added, “The Carib veterans division will enjoy the greatest overseas participation this year with three international teams in Queens Park and Malvern from Trinidad and the YMCA of Barbados. This competition promises to be an exciting one as several teams have made the final and won in previous years.”
The Ladies competition will be an all local affair with Woodpecker Hikers, Pizza Hut GCC, Old Fort Shooting Stars, Saints and Bingo Spartans vying for the title.
Meanwhile, Diamond Mineral Water Brand Manager, Larry Wills, said the company’s partnership with the Guyana Hockey Board has had an incredible impact on the sport since it has provided players with the opportunities to compete and enhance their skills.
“The Diamond Mineral Water International Indoor Hockey Festival is the only of its kind in Guyana and we are pleased that the tournament has attracted male and female teams, both locally and internationally. Our Diamond Mineral Water has long been hydrating athletes across the country and this sponsorship will help us to do so once again,” Wills remarked.
Meanwhile, FIH and Pan American Hockey Federation Umpire’s Manager, Roger St. Rose, will be in attendance this year to observe the competition, talent spot and offer advice to officials.
Cash prizes and trophies will once again be awarded to the winners and runners-up in the Male, Female and Veteran categories. The winning teams in both Male and Female tournaments will each receive US$1,000, while the runners-up will cart off US$500. The winner of the Veteran tournament will receive US$500.
The tournament will conclude on Sunday (November 26) with the category finals.