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Carnival in Berlin for our Hockey men

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Just four days to go before the greatest show on earth—T&T Carnival—and with the nation ready to show the world that despite some of the negativity that surrounds the country, for at least two days we come together as one to party like no other nation and to showcase the talents of our people in producing some of the finest mas costumes that the world will see.

The DJ’s on the road will play the songs of the top soca artistes for one and all to enjoy with the Road March title still seemingly undecided; I’m not sure if we’re going to be in the Soca Kingdom, telling Mama that we reach the Savannah or telling others that it Sweet Fuh Days. That being said, Carnival and the euphoria that it brings is one of T&T’s biggest gifts to the world.

While the majority of us will be jumping to the very songs played, let’s spare a moment and give thought to our national senior men’s indoor hockey team whom have just started the serious business of competing in the 5th Men’s Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin.

The Carnival period is always tough for our sportsmen as like the rest of us, they want to attend the fetes, the pan yards and everything else that happens before Carnival, much less Carnival itself; but to compete against the best athletes on the planet, sacrifices have to be made. It pleased me immensely to see our hockey boys in Holland training hard in preparation for the tournament.

The team lost its first two warm up games in their preparation camp, albeit against the same opposition in Dutch club HC Den Bosch Heren I; the first by 7-4, but gave an improved performance in their second game losing 7-6. The icing on the cake however was an 8-4 victory in their final warm up game of the training camp over another Dutch club team, Venlo Heren I.

The team then travelled across to Berlin for the tournament and edged South Africa 2-1 in their first warm up game but were unfortunate to lose to Russia 5-4 in their final practice match. The experience of these warm up games would give the team some much needed confidence and put them in the right frame of mind before the tournament kicks off.

I know coach Raffie Govia—one of the most affable gentlemen in hockey but at the same time a no nonsense individual who would want the team to play at 100% at all times. He surely used these warm up games as an opportunity to assess the team and sort out whatever little mistakes that were made. He has indicated that the team made some blunders both in attack and defense so one would expect him to iron out those mishaps quickly.

This type of preparation is immeasurable for the players as well, as they would witness first hand and understand the European style of play, their court speed, their systems both in attack and defense but more so, they must learn quickly as at this level, mistakes are punished with alarming regularity. They would also understand the type of intensity and skill that is required to compete on the world stage.

It is great that the team was able to leave T&T at this time with all the distractions and prepare properly for a world tournament. How many times have we seen our teams prepare for even a Caribbean tournament, much less a World tournament, and during the tournament we realise that the team was not properly prepared? Many of you know that a lack of adequate funding is usually at the forefront of the ill-preparation of many teams in previous tournaments. But it appears that this team will be ready for the action.

Hats off to the T&T Hockey Board and former head coach Dutchman Eric Verboom for organising the camp.

It makes me feel so elated when one of our national sporting associations does positive things to not only improve the sport, but also ensure that the players are ready to compete, and from what I understand the team is ready to give their all for the country and put us on the world stage in yet another sporting discipline. Once again, that’s what sport does for the country!

By the time this column is read, T&T which competes in pool A, would have already faced Czech Republic and Poland and today they face Australia and Kazakhstan. In the midst of the Carnival celebrations, let’s keep our stickmen in our thoughts as they represent the red white and black. Good luck to Raffie and the boys!

Colin Murray


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