Experience, home advantage in men’s favour

Pan American indoor hockey tournament

The fact that the core of the national men’s team that represented Guyana in Uruguay at the 2014 Pan American tournament will be back in action plus home field advantage are key factors that should help push Guyana towards winning gold in this year’s tournament.
This is according to Coach of the national team, Robert Fernandes. In an interview with Guyana Times Sports, Fernandes revealed that he was “fortunate with the men’s team that quite a few of them were at the last Pan American Indoor Tournament in Uruguay when we had our best results to date at the tournament: we actually beat Argentina twice and placed third in the tournament. That was a very big result for us, the team at the time. We had a mixture of veterans and youngsters in the team. This time around now, those youngsters are a lot more mentally and physically matured, so I think the team has definitely improved.”
Coach Fernandes in an effort to whip his charges into “impeccable shape” for the fast approaching tournament in October has divided the team’s training into specific sessions aimed at targeting different areas of their game.
“The progress has been good; we have split up the training into different sections, the first was making sure everyone’s individual skills are up to scratch, and then we moved into small group play; right now we are focused on the full systems – full offensive, full defensive structure and also situation-specific plays.”
He also declared that while Guyana have always matched and in some cases outmatched other countries’ fitness and athletic ability, his team are working on their patience and finishing ability.
“Comparing us to the other countries, I think we have always matched them athletically. Actually, I think we’re better than them athletically, fitness-wise, we are always there as well. For me, it’s been the ability to be patient and look for the right opportunities instead of jumping for the first opportunity. We like the excitement of the game, but sometimes it takes long bouts of possession, playing what some people might call ‘boring’ hockey, but just to frustrate the other team, get them to be more aggressive than they want to be and then making them pay for getting out of position. That’s what my main focus will be for the next three to five weeks.”The unit has been training together for six months and is currently practising on the newly-imported “plastic-tile” surface at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.

Part of the Men’s National Team at a recent training session

According to Fernandes, the surface suits his team’s style of play and it is a “key factor” that for the first time Guyana’s team will play on the same surface that they have been training on. This, as well as home crowd support and home conditions that his players are already accustomed to, are the main reasons that he thinks his team will go further than the third-place finish they had in Uruguay. On October 14, 2017, Guyana will embark on hosting its first-ever Pan American-level hockey championships. The tournament, called the Indoor Pan American Cup, will feature two simultaneous competitions for men and women and serves as the Pan American Continental Qualifier for FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, scheduled for February 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
The venue for the tournament will be the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.