T&T senior men's and women's hockey teams are expected to begin their departure on Sunday for their respective 2022 Pan American Hockey Cup in Santiago, Chile. The tournaments which run from January 19 – 30 will serve as qualifiers to their respective FIH World Cup.
In Chile, the Darren Cowie-coached T&T men’s squad will come up against USA, Canada and Mexico in Group B of the eight-team competition, the region’s qualifier to the 16-team FIH Odisha World Cup to be hosted by India in 2023. The remaining four teams in the Pan Am competition, three-time winners Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru comprise Pool A.
Meanwhile, the “Calypso Stickwomen” will compete in Pool B of their competition against the USA, Canada and Peru while three-time winners Argentina, host Chile and Uruguay are in an all-South American Pool A following the withdrawal of Mexico which forced organisers to re-arranged the groupings. T&T was originally grouped with Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
The 2022 Women's FIH Hockey World Cup will be the 15th edition of the Women's FIH Hockey World Cup, and will be held in Terrassa, Spain and Amstelveen, the Netherlands from July 1-17, 2022.
On Friday, the Ministry of Sports and Community Development stated that it had disbursed TT$1,611,787 in financial support to the T&T Hockey Board (TTHB) to assist with the participation of the senior men's and women's teams for the 2022 Senior Pan American Cup in Santiago, Chile from January 19-30.
Contacted for a comment, the TTHB national teams' administrator, Cindy Martin-Faustin confirmed that the local sporting body was in receipt of the funding and was in the process of finalising the team’s departure for the double-gender competition.
Martin-Faustin said that the players were in the process of having their coronavirus PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing done as requested for departure and the competition and would be departing via Panama on Sunday.
With regards to the quotas of athletes leaving at any given time, Martin-Faustin said it was not easy to give a certain figure as it was dependent on the availability of seats on the flights both via Panama City as well as Miami.
For the tournament in Chile, the women’s team will be without former captain Alana Lewis and Savannah De Freitas due to family and work commitments, respectively, with the duo being replaced by Naomi Sampson, who was part of the team at last year’s qualifying competition in Lima, Peru, and Shania Gajadhar, who was a late withdrawal back then due to personal matters.
The seven other players who were not part of the team last August but included in the women’s squad by coach Anthony Marcano are USA-based player/coach Tamia Roach, Long Island University quartet, Felicia King and Olton sisters Saarah, Kaitlyn and Samantha, and Australia-based Kimberly Young (co-captain) while goalkeeper Talia Seale gets her first senior team call-up.
T&T women open their campaign against the USA on January 19, followed by matches against Peru on January 21 and Canada, two days later also from 5.15 pm to close out round-robin play.
The top team at the end of round-robin play from each pool will advance directly to the main draw semifinals on January 27 while the second and third-placed teams in each pool meet in cross-over quarterfinals two days earlier to determine the two remaining semifinal qualifiers.
Both finalists and the third-place finishers in the Pan American competition which ends on January 29 will earn places at the16-team FIH World Cup.
The Argentine women are five-time Pan American Cup winners and the lone team to have ever won gold in the competition, while the USA has ended second in each edition except 2017 when they took bronze, and Chile, silver.
The T&T women who have resumed training have appeared at the Pan American Cup three times, previously. The first was in 2004 in Barbados when they ended eighth, and then in 2009 when they placed fourth in Bermuda and four years later when they ended seventh in Argentina.
…Toussaint leads men into battle
Long-serving senior men’s hockey player Akim Toussaint of Police will lead the senior men’s hockey team into battle in Chile.
Toussaint, who scored a hat-trick when T&T defeated Kazakhstan 6-4 at the 2018 FIH Indoor World Cup in Berlin, Germany will lead a well-balanced team of youth and experience inclusive of goalkeeper Andrey Rocke who makes a return after a three-year hiatus with his last appearance coming at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.
The other experienced players selected to the team are Aidan De Gannes, Jordan Reynos, Mickell Pierre, Jordan Vieira, Shaquille Daniel and Marcano brothers, Tariq and England-based Teague who plies his trade with England Hockey League Premier Division title-chasing Hampstead & Westminster.
The other members of the 18-man squad selected by coach Cowie include Malcolm Baptiste, Lyndell Byer, Joel Daniel, Ghardel Elcock, Ethan Reynos, Caleb Guissepi, Jovan Wren, Daniel Byer, and Tarell Singh.
Included in the 18-man team are three sets of brothers, Tariq and Teague Marcano, Lyndell and Daniel Byer, and Jordan and Ethan Reynos.
The pair of Roshane Hamilton and Jacques Poon-Lewis are the travelling reserves while the quintet of Arrielle Bowen, Triston Grant, Cade Lue Sue, Shawn Phillip and David Coker have been selected as training reserves.
The “Calypso Stickmen” flick off their campaign in Chile against USA on January 20 followed by matches against Mexico on January 22, and Canada, two days later to close out round-robin play.
At the end of round-robin play, the top two teams in each pool will advance to the main draw semifinals on January 26, while the second and third-placed teams will meet in cross-over quarterfinals to determine the other semifinal qualifiers. The two semifinal winners will then secure the two Pan American spots to the 16-team World Cup.
Cowie, who replaced Glen “Fido” Francis as senior men’s coach in October, will be supported by assistant coaches Dwain Quan Chan and Raphael Govia to serve as his assistants.
Under the guidance of Francis, the national men's hockey team placed fourth at the last edition of the Pan American Cup in Lancaster, USA in 2017 after a 3-0 loss to host USA in the bronze medal.
And due to their top-six finish in the eight-team competition, T&T secured automatic qualification to next year's qualifiers. Francis also coached the team which claimed its best-ever bronze medal finish in Brampton, Canada in 2013 with a 3-1 defeat of the Americans in the third-place match.
Four years earlier (2009) in Santiago, Chile, Nicholas "Chico" Govia coached the men's team to the fifth spot, and in 2004, its other participation ended with a 2-1 loss to Chile in the bronze medal clash Under David Francois in London, Canada.
Women: Shania De Freitas, Avion Ahston (co-captain), Amanda George, Anya Sealy, Tamia Roach, Saarah Olton, Samantha Olton, Kaitlyn Olton, Felicia King, Kimberly Young (co-captain), Gabrielle Thompson, Zene Henry, Brittney Hingh, Mia Otero, Arresia Sandy (goalkeeper), Talia Seale (goalkeeper), Naomi Sampson, Shania Gajadhar.
Travelling Reserves: Nicole Whiteman, Sarah Sampson (goalkeeper).
Technical staff: Anthony Marcano (head coach), Ellis Chance (assistant coach), Jennifer Lander (manager), Teresa Lezama (assistant manager/videographer), Dennora George (masseuse), Kevin Mc Intyre (physiotherapist).
Men: Akim Toussaint (c), Andrey Rocke (GK), Malcolm Baptiste (GK), Aidan De Gannes, Lyndell Byer, Jordan Reynos, Mickell Pierre, Jordan Vieira, Tariq Marcano, Teague Marcano, Shaquille Daniel, Joel Daniel, Ghardel Elcock, Ethan Reynos, Caleb Guissepi, Jovan Wren, Daniel Byer, Tarell Singh.
Travelling Reserves: Roshane Hamilton, Jacques Poon-Lewis (GK).
Technical staff: Darren Cowie (head coach), Dwain Quan Chan (assistant coach), Raphael Govia (assistant coach), Roger Gomes (manager), Derick Ashby (masseuse), Kevin Mc Intyre (physiotherapist).