President of the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) Douglas Camacho praised the national men’s hockey team after they qualified for the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup, saying the team was patient and stuck to their game plan.
TT booked a place in the 2018 World Cup in Berlin, Germany after defeating Argentina 7-0 in the final of the 2017 Indoor Pan American Hockey Cup in Guyana, on Saturday.
Camacho said yesterday, “I am very pleased. We had high expectations going into the tournament that we would have definitely been very competitive. We felt we would have definitely been in line. We figured it would have been a three-way contest among ourselves, Argentina and Canada and it more or less played out that way.”
It is the second time the TT men’s team qualified for the World Cup following the team’s 2007 debut. Only the top team from the Pan Am tournament qualified for the World Cup.
TT pulled off a remarkable comeback against Canada in the last preliminary round match, which sealed a spot for TT in the final. Camacho said the comeback by TT demonstrated the team can play from behind.
“When Canada led us four nil into the second half I was not concerned, because I know we had to lose by a wide, wide margin not to qualify (for the final). To come back from there and beat Canada who were the defending champions from four nil down and beat them 7-5, I felt at that stage we have the rhythm and we are not only winning from in front which we did all the other games. We clearly demonstrated that even when we go down a little bit with patience and following our game plan we would be able to pull it off.”
Camacho said they would depend on assistance from the Sport Company of TT, corporate TT and fund-raising activities to fund the trip to the Indoor Hockey World Cup.
Reflecting on the life of local hockey stalwart Winston Govia, who died during the Pan Am tournament, Camacho said, “Winston is a former national player. He played with my club Notre Dame for a while, he played for Casuals, he played for quite a few clubs over the years. He has been very involved and very encouraging to the sport and at my level as a personal friend.”
Winston’s son Raphael was the TT hockey coach in Guyana and had to leave his team before the Pan Am tournament concluded. Raphael’s son Jordan played a major role on the team and won the Young Player of the Tournament.
Following the final, TT captain Solomon Eccles said the team stuck to the game plan and commended the team’s defence. “We came out with a game plan and we did exactly what we wanted to do and we did it. (There were) no goals against us, we had a shut-out and we are so excited right now you could not believe.”
Eccles admitted there were some challenges along the way saying, “Of course there were some bumps, but at the end of the day the game plan worked we looked at our videos...and when we came here we did exactly what we wanted to do.”
The TT captain, speaking about the structure and chemistry of the squad, pointed out, “We have a couple others that could join the team, but this is generally the core group and it is a very strong team. We have been training and we are like brothers. At this point in time it cannot get any better than this, it cannot get any better than this for us right now.”