Guyana Women’s hockey team to attend CAC qualifier

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The Guyana Women’s hockey team is scheduled to compete in the 2022 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games qualifier set for Hamilton, Bermuda. Four Women’s team will be vying for spots in the 2023 CAC Games, scheduled for June of that year in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Of the four, Puerto Rico is the highest ranked team at 49 in the world, followed by Jamaica (63), Guyana (66) and Bermuda (73).

The Guyanese training suspended for 2020 and most of 2021, but resumed during the latter part of that year under strict COVID-19 social distancing measures and have been working hard to make up for lost time.

The team faces favourites Puerto Rico in its very first match on April 14 at 15:00h (Guyana time), followed by hosts Bermuda on April 16 at 17:00h and Jamaica on April 17 at 14:00h. The top two teams, based on the accumulation of points, will secure berths to the 2023 CAC Games.

Guyana last competed in the CAC Games back in 2018 when the team finished in seventh place out of eight.

Seven players remain from the team that contested the last CAC Games, which incidentally was the last time Guyana competed internationally.

Those players are goalkeeper Alysa Xavier, Trisha Woodroffe, Marzana Fiedtkou, Samantha Fernandes, Princessa Wilkie, Captain Gabriella Xavier and the recently recalled defensive stalwart Ulrica Sutherland.

Coach Philip Fernandes is excited about the new additions to this strong core of players as making their international outdoor debut would be speedy strikers Sarah Klautky, Abosaide Cadogan and Claysa Bobb, midfielder Madison Fernandes and defenders Kezia Chinian, Makeda Harding, Mickelly Rahaman and Kirsten Gomes.

Fernandes was particularly pleased also with the return from injury of striker Aliyah Gordon, who is a key playmaker for the team.

Fernandes believes that despite the youthful average age of the team, they are capable of creating the upsets needed to secure a place in the CAC Games.

“Our defensive line, including goalkeeper Alysa Xavier is solid,” Fernandes said.

“We have a talented midfield and the greatest depth in our forward line that we ever had. So I expect that we can apply pressure to the opposition for longer spells and hopefully create more goal-scoring opportunities than we have in the past.”

The ladies have been training at the Georgetown Cricket Club and occasionally at the Providence National Stadium, which provides a surface most similar to that of an artificial grass surface.

According to Coach Philip Fernandes the biggest hurdle in preparing for these tournaments is not the technique, tactical awareness, physical condition or mental health of the athletes.

He is confident that Guyana has sufficient talent, commitment and intelligence to compete with the region’s best, but bemoans the fact that Guyana remains the only hockey-playing nation in the region without an artificial pitch on which to play the game.

All internationally sanctioned matches have taken place on artificial pitches since the 1980s and Fernandes indicated that this not only robs Guyana the opportunity to host other countries and gain vital experience, but it also makes the task of competing internationally twice as difficult as the game is substantially different on grass fields compared to artificial pitches.

Fernandes indicated however, that he has had some encouraging conversations with the Minister of Sport about a solution for this problem and is hopeful that this challenge will soon be overcome.

The team is sponsored by GTT, which has been the main sponsor of the team for the past few years and has developed a longstanding relationship with the sport.

In order to participate in this competition, the Guyana Hockey Board is also grateful to the National Sports Commission, the Guyana Olympic Association and the John Fernandes Group of Companies.

The full Guyana squad reads: Abosaide Cadogan, Aliyah Gordon, Alysa Xavier, Clayza Bobb, Gabriella Xavier, Kezia Chinian, Kirsten Gomes, Madison Fernandes, Makeda Harding, Marzana Fiedtkou, Mickelly Rahaman, Princessa Wilkie, Samantha Fernandes, Sarah Klautky, Trisha Woodroffe and Ulrica Sutherland.

Coach: Philip Fernandes

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