Lack of proper facility a challenge for CAC hockey teams training
By Avenash Ramzan
The lack of a proper training facility has been identified as a major challenge for the male and female national teams preparing for participation in the 2018 Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Columbia.
In November 2017, Guyana’s female team stunned the voluminous Jamaican crowd at the Mona Sports Complex in Kingston, Jamaica, with a 1-0 victory in the Ladies final of the CAC Qualifier.
The Guyanese men however, had to settle for silver after a disappointing end to the Men’s competition, which had to be cancelled after 20 minutes of play due to faulty issues with the field lights. Since Jamaica got the edge of Guyana in the Pool round by winning 3-2, they were adjudged the winners.
The gold and silver medal performances earned both teams places at the CAC Games, which president of the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB), Philip Fernandes, described as “another level” altogether.
“You go to the qualifiers and you win, but when you go to CAC it’s another level. Definitely the teams have to be better than they were at the qualifiers. We think we could prepare teams that are within striking distance of medals at the CAC. Guyana’s hockey has never medalled at the CAC, but that’s not an impossibility; we have a good core of players and with the right training and preparation for it I think Guyana could in fact be in a position where we could actually strike at a medal at CAC,” Fernandes explained.
“Right training and preparation”, as Fernandes pointed out, is key to Guyana doing well at the 2018 event. However, there is a hurdle to that being a reality.
For years, the GHB has been clamouring for a plot of land to erect a home for hockey, one where national teams, both senior and junior, can properly train and developmental programmes can be conducted.
“That is a very, very important issue for us. One of the challenges we have is that we don’t have the facility to train; we have to go and ask different private facilities for time on their facilities, usually on cricket grounds, for hockey to train and that in itself is a challenge. There will be a rainy period between now and CAC and then what do we do during that time? And then sometimes light fading early (and) facilities don’t have lights under which to train…these are the challenges we have,” Fernandes highlighted.
He continued, “A home for hockey would of course help a great deal with all of this, because we would then have a facility where we can actually schedule hockey training for our national teams and for our juniors and for developmental programmes. In addition, the CAC Games, as any other international tournament, is played on artificial surface and it’s difficult to duplicate those conditions. Whenever we go to tournaments there are certain skills the players have to use that you cannot practice on grass so during those first few training sessions when a tournament starts and even those first few international matches our players are then re-familiarising themselves with the techniques and so on that you need for the artificial turf. That’s a big, big handicap that we have against the other teams. All the other teams in CAC will have an artificial surface in their country and Guyana is the only team to qualify who does not have that facility.”
Fernandes told News Room that the GHB has already submitted a proposal to the Department of Sport “of what we would like to develop, on a piece of land to have as a home for hockey.”
He added, “We have not asked for funds to pay for it; we do not necessarily have the funding in our pockets, but we have a plan as to how to go about getting the funds.”
Fernandes pointed out that the first step in the process is to “have something tangible or something in writing, indicating that this land has been identified for hockey to be priority.”
The GHB head further explained, “Once we have that then it is our intention to go and lobby the International Federation, we would obviously have to approach the private sector for funding as well, maybe in return for sponsorship, branding or even the name of the facility and garner those funds. So the first step is to get the approval for the land; the Minister has in his hands a proposal, he has promised to take it to Cabinet and wherever else it needs to go to be approved and we are right now just hopeful and awaiting some response from them.”