’More than 20 years of requests’ – National Hockey coaches bemoan lack of artificial turf
- ‘Our players deserve better’– Phillip Fernandes
The Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) will send a male and female Under-21 team to the Junior Pan-American Championships in Barbados from April 10 – 18.
Both sides underwent months of preparation but during that period, they were not able to train on a similar surface they will contest the championships that are qualifiers for the 2023 Junior World Cup to be held in Santiago, Chile in December.
Phillip Fernandes, GHB President and Coach of the Under-21 girls, indicated in a press release on Friday that the players have been committed to the preparation programme but the unfortunate weather early in the year rendered most fields unusable and forced the players indoors to the National Gymnasium for training.
According to Fernandes, these conditions were far from optimal and placed a further strain on the country’s ability to produce successful teams.
Fernandes expressed disappointment that “after more than twenty years of requests, the Federation is no closer to securing an artificial surface for hockey which all other teams in the Pan American Federation have.”
“While all other teams consistently train on full-sized artificial surfaces year-round, just because these players are born in Guyana, they have to make do with thick grass fields which are often unavailable, a reduced sized gymnasium, a small basketball court-sized carpeted surface or the once per week National Stadium training,” expressed Fernandes.
“Our players deserve better than this and I am hopeful that someday the commitment and passion of our players will be rewarded with suitable facilities that can enable greater success.”
When asked about the Providence artificial football field, Fernandes indicated that while the field would be ideal, “the Guyana Football Federation had indicated a fear of their warranty being voided and therefore they could not allow hockey to train there.”
Likewise, the Boys Under-21 coach, Robert Fernandes told News Room Sport, “There are some things you can’t teach, like the speed of the surface, the speed that you have to think at, you can’t replicate that on grass.”
He added, “every tournament we go to, we are the only team not to have an artificial turf and quite frankly teams are surprised how well we play without having that facility…we make the best of the situation we are in but I think that [artificial turf] will take us to a whole new level.”
Facilities Manager for the International Hockey Federation, Alastair Cox, articulated during a presentation that costs would vary depending on which part of the world the turf facility is being constructed and the design but it can potentially range from US$ 675,000 – US$900,000.
These prices cater to a complete facility that can host international tournaments.
However, to do a turf solely, and no additional structures, it is approximately US$200,000.
It is understood those figures are likely to be cheaper for Guyana based on the cost of materials locally.
Several players expressed hope they can get such a facility here to allow them to consistently train and improve their skills.