As the Guyana Under-21 women’s hockey team prepares to make their first ever international appearance, which takes place at the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships scheduled for 10 – 18 April in Bridgetown, Barbados, Sabor Restaurant & Catering has thrown its support behind the young Guyanese group. Just as the girls will be the new faces in international hockey, Sabor is a young and very trending food outfit making a splash in the local food market.
The Guyana team features six players with prior international experience in Captain and sweeper Makeda Harding, defender Kirsten Gomes, midfielders Madison Fernandes, Clayza Bobb and Sarah Klautky and striker Abosaide Cadogan. The rest of the team features a diverse group with ages ranging from 20 down to Makaylah Poole at just 13 years of age. While the team intends to do its best to represent Guyana well, the youthful age of many players make it a perfect developmental squad for future international competitions as they gather experience.
Proprietor of Sabor, Mr Janiel Lee, indicated that the company was excited to be able to contribute to the wellbeing and betterment of young Guyanese. He indicated that there are often not enough opportunities especially for your girls to participate in sport and compete internationally.
The team travels out to Barbados on Friday 7th April and will face Canada in their opening match on Tuesday 12th April after a few training sessions on the artificial hockey pitch in Barbados.
After months of intense training and continuous fitness and skill tests, the Guyana Hockey Board has approved an 18 member under 21 men’s team to represent Guyana at the Junior Pan American Championships, scheduled for Barbados from April 10th to 18th, 2023. The team consists of 14 players who traveled to Barbados in December last year and defeated the host country’s junior team in a four-match series, there are also 4 newcomers who will be making their international debuts. Guyana’s first group match will be against the USA on April 10th followed by Barbados on April 11th and concluding with power house Canada on April 13th.
Speaking on his expectations of the team, Head Coach of the national men’s programme, Robert Fernandes said, “All credit to the boys for putting in the work, I think we have a great group of youngsters who are capable of executing at a high level. I’m confident that we will be competitive and hopefully pull off some upsets to advance from the group phase.” The team has been working on strength and conditioning with former national Rugby Captain, turned physical trainer, Theodore Henry. Fernandes noted “We were struggling for a while after our long-time trainer Barrington Browne migrated, but Theodore has had a great impact on the boys’ fitness since he started working with them. Our philosophy is that “we cannot control the absence of an artificial turf to train and play and our inexperience, but we can control how fit we are and how hard we work on the field.”
Although fairly well balanced, the team’s strength comes from their midfield three of Shaquan Favorite, Tahrea Garnett and Shakeem Fausette. The dramatic improvement of players like Oshazay Savory, Simeon Moore and Vladimir Woodroffe has also contributed to the high expectations surrounding this team. The players will be accompanied by Manager and former national captain Marisha Fernandes, Coaches John Abrahams and Robert Fernandes, as well as team doctor Charlyn Elliot. The team is grateful to our local sporting bodies for their financial support and will be reaching out to Corporate Guyana for assistance in making this journey a successful one.
National Junior Men’s Team Jamal Gaskin, Raoul Whittaker, Baraka Garnett, Daniel Woolford, Jabari Lovell, Javid Hussain, Leroy Geer, Nandalall Persaud, Oshazay Savory, Quinn Tobin, Samuel Woodroffe, Shakeem Fausette, Shaquon Favorite, Simeon Moore, Tahrea Garnett, Vladimir Woodroffe, Warren Williams & Yonnick Norton. Standby Players – Donnel Alleyne & Robert Marcus
On Thursday December 1st, the Diamond Mineral Water International Indoor Hockey Festival will bully-off for the sixteenth time. Born from the idea of Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, who upon visiting Guyana in 2003, met with the Guyana Hockey Board and encouraged them to stage an annual international hockey festival. Reds being a huge proponent of sports tourism thought that the Guyanese sporting bodies needed to do more to attract foreign athletes to our shores. The Guyana Hockey Board took up the challenge and secured the volunteer services of former national hockey players, Troy Hugh Peters, to be the Tournament Coordinator.
Eighteen years later, the Festival has grown into one of the premiere indoor hockey events in the region and attracts top club teams and players from the Pan American region. While over the years the festival has had its challenges and missed years due to renovations at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in 2012 and then again during the restrictive covid-19 times.
This year the mighty Queens Park men’s contingent returns to compete in the men’s veteran over 35s and the Guinness Masters over 45s divisions. The over 35s will be the first foreign side on show as they take on the Antonio’s Hickers at 19:30hrs on the opening night.
Trinidad Police makes their debut this year with a large male and female contingent. The TT Police men will be on show for the final match of the evening on Thursday as they take on the recent GTT National Indoor Champions, Bounty GCC. The police ladies similarly will face local national champs the GBTI GCC Tigers in the TLC ladies division at 20:10hrs
The tournament will feature 18 teams which includes 6 foreign teams. In addition, four players from Canada and two from the USA will be on show as guest players among the local sides, adding to the international flare of the festival.
Diamond Mineral Water has been the mainstay of the festival and has been the title sponsor since its inception in 2004. Local freight-forwarding company, TLC Guyana Inc, which is the sponsor of the women’s division is new to the sport locally while Guinness, more popular with football, has been the welcome sponsor of the Masters division.
All matches are being player at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall and begin at 18:00 hrs on Thursday 1st December, 15:00hrs on December 2nd, 13:00hrs on December 3rd and 11:00 hrs on the final day of December 4th.
The opening day of the 2021 Indoor Pan American Cup could not have gone further from expectation for the Guyana women’s national hockey team. Guyana bravely took the court in their opening match against the pre-tournament favourites and hosts the USA without 25% of its players who were lost due to injury and positive covid-19 tests. So severe was this announcement that the team deliberated withdrawal from the tournament as an indoor team of only 12 players could ill afford to lose three of its best and most experienced.
The game against the USA was beyond the Guyanese from the very beginning when it was apparent that the superior passing and game experience of the USA made it a mismatch against the young Guyanese side. The USA would score through a penalty corner in the very first minute of the match past stand-in goalkeeper Princessa Wilkie, who unexpectedly had to don the goalkeeping gear to replace Guyana’s star goalkeeper Alysa Xavier who remained at the hotel in quarantine.
The USA steamrolled Guyana to an 11-0 halftime score and a 22-2 final score as Guyana managed few meaningful attacks, two of which were made successful through young striker Abosaide Cadogan. Eight of the USA goals came by way of penalty corners which was the most difficult aspect of the game for the new goalkeeper Wilkie to handle. Wilkie did however pull of a few good saves as she remained the best example of on-the-job training.
Guyana returned later in the evening for their second match of the day against the highly regarded and ranked, Argentina. This time the outcome was marginally better as Argentina pushed the Guyanese back into their own half of the field and used diagonal penetrating passes to strikers lurking near the goal. By now it was apparent that the absence of Xavier in goal was Guyana’s Achilles heel and the Argentines were keen to exploit it. Although Guyana did have a few counterattacking runs that threatened the Argentine goal, they could manage no better than a 14-0 loss, their second for the day in as many matches.
National coach of Guyana, Philip Fernandes, indicated that it was the most difficult conditions under which to compete for the team. “We were faced with losing our top goal-scoring striker, our most complete all-round player and our strongest contributor to the team’s success in goalkeeper Xavier in one fell swoop. These are three of our top five players and represent a quarter of our team. They are impossible to replace and we had a lot of discussion as a team on whether to take the court.” Said Fernandes. He indicated that the decision to play despite the insurmountable odds was made based on the vital learning experience it could play to the rest of the team, including the four teenagers who are playing in their first international tournament. “It would certainly have been a much nicer experience to finish with decent scores” said Fernandes “And, while I doubt we could have won against the USA and Argentina, even at full strength, we could have done significantly better.”
When asked about the key takeaways for Guyana on the first day, Fernandes indicated that eighteen-year-old striker, Abosaide Cadogan, was the biggest surprise of the tour so far. This is not just because she was Guyana’s lone striker to score, with two goals, but Abosaide looked threatening anytime she received the ball in the open floor due to her speed while in control of the ball. Princessa Wilkie got the nod for bravery as Fernandes indicated that the debutante goalkeeper was given an impossible task, but enthusiastically stepped up to the challenge and even made a few surprisingly good saves.
The full results of day one are as follows:
Canada vs Uruguay 1 – 1 Guyana vs USA 2 – 20 Argentina vs Uruguay 2 – 2 Canada vs USA 4 – 5 Guyana vs Argentina 0 – 14
Guyana will face Canada in their next match at 11:30AM on June 26th, followed by Uruguay later that same day at 4:00PM.
After a two-year hiatus from international competition mostly due to the global pandemic, the Guyana national women’s indoor hockey team is scheduled to compete in the Indoor Pan Am Cup (IPAC) from June 25th to 27th in Pennsylvania, USA.
With training being suspended for most of 2020, the ladies resumed training under strict Covid-19 social distancing measures earlier this year and have been working hard to make up for lost time. Of course, all countries participating would have experiences various levels of disruption and so Guyana will not be the only participant needing to prepare a team in short time.
The ladies have been training at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall under the guidance of head coach Philip Fernandes. Only five players remain from the team that contested the last IPAC held for the first time in Guyana in 2017. Those players are goalkeeper Alysa Xavier, Trisha Woodroffe, Marzana Fiedtkou, Captain Gabriella Xavier and Aliyah Gordon. Added to the team will be defensive stopper Makeda Harding, the young Spartan trio of Abosaide Cadogan, Madison Fernandes and Sarah Klautky, experienced defender Ashley DeGroot and the baby of the team, Saints striker Clayza Bobb.
This is the youngest ever squad to represent Guyana but one that is packed with talent. Coach Fernandes however is very excited by the several teenagers in the line-up as he feels that they are among the most talented players we have seen in recent years in the women’s program and have responded well to the training. “It was a challenge to get the young players to understand systems and team attack and defence concepts in such a short time as there is no substitute for experience” Fernandes said “But these girls have the skills and hockey intelligence to be competitive.”
The team will face the host nation USA in their first match on Friday 25th at 11:30AM. The USA are the defending champions who represented the Americas in the last indoor world cup in Berlin, Germany. The USA is the top ranked Pan American team at #12 in the world and will further benefit from competing on their home court where the team has been encamped. Guyana is the lowest ranked team in the competition at #31 with Argentina at #16, Canada #18 and Uruguay #22.
After their clash with the USA, the Guyanese ladies then face Argentina at 6:00PM the same day before Canada and Uruguay the following day. According to Fernandes, while he does not place a limit on the team’s potential, he considers toppling any of the four powerhouse nations to be considered a success. The winner of this year’s IPAC secured the spot to represent the Americas in the next Indoor World Cup scheduled for Belgium in 2022.
The Covid-19 protocols for the competition unfortunately bars spectators from viewing the matches live. Matches will all be played at The Training Center in Spring City, Pennsylvania and will begin on Friday 25th June according to the schedule on the Pan Am website: 2021 Indoor Pan American Cup (Women) – Competitions – Pan American Hockey Federation (panamhockey.org)
The full Guyana squad reads:
Abosaide Cadogan Alysa Xavier Gabriella Xavier Ashley DeGroot Trisha Woodroffe Sarah Klautky Madison Fernandes Aliyah Gordon Clayza Bobb Marzana Fiedtkou Makeda Harding
Despite the global carnage and shutdown of sports due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) has remained undeterred and proactive in their handling of the national teams and athletes.
The 592 Dugout had an exclusive interview with the GHB President, Philip Fernandes, who revealed how his administration has been handling the respective national teams and the plans for the resumption of the sport after Covid.
Fernandes pointed out; “This is indeed a difficult time, especially for team sports. On the good side for hockey, it is an open-air sport and so this is not as risky as playing in enclosed and confined spaces. During our sport however, players occasionally come into contact with each other and in certain areas, like the goal area, there are sometimes quite a few players in close proximity to each other”.
To that end, the GHB revealed; “As a result of these risks, and the recommendations of the WHO and the local authorities, we have suspended all training and activities in hockey. This will remain in place until the authorities permit such activities again and if it is determined at that time to be safe enough to resume”.
“Our national teams have remained in contact virtually and both the men and women have physical programs and skill challenges that they have been following during this time. Daily physical training exercises are circulated with each athlete performing them at his or her time on that given day in their own private space. Our aim is to try to ensure our athletes stay fit so that when national training resumes, the focus could be purely on tactical elements while the physical training would just be maintenance work”.
Quizzed about possible rule changes upon resumption of hockey in Guyana, Fernandes noted; “I do not expect there to be rule changes on the playing field as it is hoped that some measure of control will soon be achieved. This might be a vaccine or cure, which would remove the need for any rule changes. I do believe however that there will be changes prior to and after each game where the use of dressing rooms and washroom areas are concerned and also the use of drinking fountains or other sources of drinking water”.
With an eye on the future after the rescheduling of all Pan American Hockey Federation tournaments, Fernandes expressed optimism on fielding teams at those postponed tournaments; “The very next competition date on their calendar so far is the Junior Pan American Championships in Chile which was originally scheduled for November this year, and is now set for April 2021. Guyana is hoping to send its Under-21 boys team to this event. The PAHF Challenge which was originally scheduled for July in Peru has been postponed also but no new dates have been announced as yet. Guyana is hoping to send both a male and female senior team to this event”. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has issued guidelines which are regularly updated as the days go by, however, according to Fernandes, the FIH also indicated that the local regulations should always supersede any external recommendations.
Some of the regulations laid out by the FIH include; “Players are not allowed to take the field more than 10 minutes in advance of training. All hands must be washed and temperatures checked. Players are not allowed to touch the hockey balls or training props with bare hands and also no high fives or other voluntary physical contact. Training is restricted to technical skills which each player can execute while maintaining distance from each other and no exercises where tackling or any physical engagement between two players are done”.
In concluding, the GHB head honcho stated; “These are the steps that we will follow whenever we determine it is safe enough to resume. I expect the national teams to resume at the earliest possible time and the clubs to follow suit shortly afterward”.