Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pan Am bound stickmen stuck in T&T

With only two days left before they are due to flick off their campaign at the fourth Pan American Cup to be held in Brampton, Toronto, Canada, this country’s senior men’s hockey team was still without visas, confirmed tickets and accommodation for their stay in North America.
     Yesterday, the 18-man playing squad skippered by Darren Cowie and the coaching staff headed by former national goalkeeper Glen “Fido” Francis was expected to depart for Canada. However, when contacted officials at the T&T Hockey Board confirmed the team was still stranded in T&T.
   Pressed further, the official said despite numerous appeals to corporate T&T, the T&THB had been unable to secure the requisite funding to facilitate the team's participation in the upcoming Pan American Cup, which served as a qualifier to next year’s World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.
   Discussions are still being held regarding support for the undertaking given the penalties and setbacks the team may face if they fail to appear at the tournament. However, up to yesterday afternoon, the managerial staff had yet to secure the visas and tickets for the players and five-member technical staff.
   According to the local hockey board official, T&T’s failure to appear at the tournament will stifle the development of the team, and by extension hockey in the country, back a few years as a dip in the team’s ranking at this stage would put the team out of contention for a spot in the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland next year.
   T&T is presently ranked 30th in the world and failure to appear at this tournament will also exclude the team from automatic participation at the 2017 Pan American Cup as only teams that finish among the first six in this year’s tournament qualify automatically for the next edition of the tournament.
  To qualify for the 2017 Pan American Cup T&T would have to first participate in the 2015 Pan American Challenge to earn a place and failure to appear also has potential to affect the national women’s team who is destined for Argentina in September for the women’s version of this tournament.
   Should the team get to Canada, it will open its campaign in Pool B versus Chile on Saturday from 3 pm followed by Brazil on Sunday, then play Canada on Tuesday to end round-robin pool play.
   Regional powerhouse Argentina, Mexico, USA and Uruguay are in Pool A.
  At the end of the pool round-robin series, the top two teams will advance to the cross-over semifinals while third and fourth go to semifinals for fifth to eighth spot ahead of the final playoffs for bronze and gold.

The Trinidad Guardian