Injury, COVID setback for Women’s hockey team at Indoor Pan Am Cup
The Guyana Women’s national team arrived in Philadelphia in the cool afternoon of June 23 to begin their quest for qualification to participate in the Indoor Hockey World Cup, scheduled for Liege, Belgium, in February 2022.
Before the team could take the court for its first game however, Guyana suffered two significant setbacks with the late ankle injury of prolific striker Sonia Jardine and the contraction of COVID-19 by Captain Gabriella Xavier.
The loss of two of the team’s top players will leave a huge void on the forward line and midfield as their experience will be difficult to replace.
National coach Philip Fernandes expressed great frustration and disappointment at this development, saying, “These girls have put in so much time and effort that it is unfair for them to be left out at this late stage.”
“As far as the team goes, we will have to now rely on our young inexperienced players. While they are skilful and energetic, you cannot rush experience and it will be a challenge for them to play with the discipline and consistency under pressure that is required for this level of competition.”
The team will have one practice session on Thursday on the playing facility The Training Center in Spring City, PA. At this practice, Fernandes said the focus will need to be on making some structural adjustments to the role of some of the players in order to cover for the loss of Xavier and Jardine.
“Not much can be changed tactically at this late stage,” said Fernandes. “Tactical changes, especially among young players need time and repetitive practice to be successful. This means that we will make a few structural changes by moving players around the floor in different roles to what was originally intended.”
Fernandes indicated that, although the loss is great, team morale remains high and the players are excited to apply what they have learnt and trained against foreign competition. The global pandemic had prevented international hockey competition for over a year and this is a welcome return for the players.
The competition is being held under strict COVID-19 protocols, which include no spectators at the facility and the team being confined to a bubble with no outside contact for the duration of the competition.
The team has benefitted from the support of major sponsors GTT, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, the Guyana Olympic Association and Bounty Farm Limited. The players also received a donation of training vests from MVP Sports.
Guyana will face tournament top seed and defending champions the USA in their first match set for 11:30h on Friday June 25.
After their clash with the USA, the Guyanese ladies then face Argentina at 18:00h the same day before Canada and Uruguay the following day. According to Fernandes, while he does not place a limit on the team’s potential, he considers toppling any of the four powerhouse nations to be considered a success.
The full Guyana squad reads: Abosaide Cadogan, Alysa Xavier, Gabriella Xavier, Ashley DeGroot, Trisha Woodroffe, Sarah Klautky, Madison Fernandes, Aliyah Gordon, Clayza Bobb, Marzana Fiedtkou and Makeda Harding. Coach: Philip Fernandes; Manager: Princessa Wilkie.