The Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) announced Thursday the postponement of the Junior Pan American Championships to August 19-26.
Host country Chile’s struggles with the Covid-19 virus have been well-documented in the lead- up to that tournament, previously scheduled to flick off from April 12-26.
And while the venue has not changed, local junior men’s hockey coach Darren Cowie says the news is a bit of a mixed bag for regional hockey.
“To our benefit, we did start our preparations late, we have only been training for three months so that gives us a little bit more time for the team to gel and get certain things solidified, “ the former national senior men’s team player said.
“At the same time, postponements don’t usually mean well in the sense of if the tournament will even ever happen. It is positive it is not cancelled on the whole and it is just postponed but the consistent postponements will mean that there is a chance they (the PAHF) will just scrap the tournament.”
The local junior women’s team, coached by Natalie Neaves, is also supposed to be participating in that tournament. In the meantime, the junior teams -- resumed training after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions last November -- are pressing ahead with their preparations.
Cowie’s training squad -- cut from 32 to a current 27 players -- has settled into a three-session weekly training routine of Wednesday at the Woodbrook Youth Facility and Saturday and Sunday at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex (DMSC).
Overall Cowie has been satisfied with the squad’s overall fitness, saying they had begun to find their legs. Their strength and fitness are also scheduled to be supplemented by training sessions at the gym at the Hasely Crawford Stadium under the direction of the Elite Development Performance Unit (EDPU) of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago.
Tactically, the team is still short of the awareness level. Cowie is also seeking to boost that aspect of his charges game by employing and engaging the senior men’s squad in practice matches every Sunday at the DMSC.
Those facilities are their best option with the delay in the delivery and completion of the $1.3 million turf, snagged by bureaucratic processes and the travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That turf was originally scheduled to be completed ahead of the 2017 FIH World League semi-finals which was hosted at the National Hockey Centre in Tacarigua. Finance is also sure to be an issue also for the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB), with the organisation having five national teams scheduled to travel within four months.
Besides the two junior teams with their Santiago, Chile, assignments, the senior women’s outfit, coached by Anthony “Bumpa” Marcano, are obliged to attend and win the May 6-16 2021 Pan American Challenge in Lima, Peru, if they are to qualify for the Pan American Cup, scheduled for January 20-30 of 2022.
That is a competition for which the senior men’s team under Glen “Fido” Francis has already qualified. And then the senior men’s and women’s indoor teams are entered for the 2021 Indoor Pan American Cup from June 21-27 in Pennsylvania, USA.
Attendance is not a certainty.
“I can’t say if we will be going or not. I have no idea of the finances of the TTHB. That is a decision for them to make,” Cowie noted.
“All I can do as coach is make sure the team is prepared the best that they can be and I ‘ll do that. SO that even if we don’t attend, I’ll make the guys understand that this work is in their best interest for the development of their individual game and of the game locally.”