Guyana Women’s Hockey Team to attend CAC qualifier
The Guyana Women’s Hockey Team is scheduled to compete in the 2022 Central American & 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, listed as #49 in the world; followed by Jamaica as #63, Guyana sits in position #66, while hosts Bermuda are ranked #73.
The Guyanese squad had training suspended for 2020 and most of 2021, but resumed during the latter part of that year under strict COVID-19 social distancing measures earlier this year, and have been working hard to make up for lost time.
The team faces favourites Puerto Rico in its very first match on Thursday 14th April at 3pm Guyana Time, followed by hosts Bermuda on Saturday 16th April at 5:00pm and completes its matches against Jamaica on Sunday April 17th at 2:00pm. The top two teams based on the accumulation of points would 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 contesting teams. 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 Fernandes is excited about the new additions to this strong corps 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 feel 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,” said Fernandes, but went on to say, “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 take place on artificial pitches since the 1980s, and Fernandes indicated that this not only robs Guyana of 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 would 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:
1. Abosaide Cadogan
2. Aliyah Gordon
3. Alysa Xavier
4. Clayza Bobb
5. Gabriella Xavier
6. Kezia Chinian
7. Kirsten Gomes
8. Madison Fernandes
9. Makeda Harding
10. Marzana Fiedtkou
11. Mickelly Rahaman
12. Princessa Wilkie
13. Samantha Fernandes
14. Sarah Klautky
15. Trisha Woodroffe
16. Ulrica Sutherland
Coach: Philip Fernandes