DARREN Cowie, coach of the Trinidad and Tobago men’s hockey team, hopes that the younger players can “give a good account of themselves” during the Pan American Men’s Hockey Cup in Santiago, Chile.
The eight-team tournament will be contested from January 20-30.
TT are in Group B, along with Canada, Mexico and the United States, while hosts Chile will be joined by Argentina, Brazil and Peru in Group A.
TT will face the US on January 20, Mexico on January 22 and Canada on January 24. The finalists will qualify for the 2023 Hockey World Cup in India.
During an interview on Monday, Cowie said, “We have a few young players that we brought into the fray from the (2021 Junior Pan Am Championships). We have a lot of guys who would have been unavailable for various reasons. So, it will be a chance for the young ones to step in and give a good account for themselves.”
Cowie, the former national player and coach of the TT men’s team at the Junior Pan Am Champs, continued, “My main plan is a long-term view of how we treat national teams, how players see themselves as national athletes, so it can’t be a tournament-for-tournament mindset.
“While we do want to win, we’re also keeping our eyes on how we want to perform. We want to make sure we create a nice foundation so when we do come back, we know the standard that we want to be at and we know what standard we want to raise our game to as well, with regards to the physical, tactical, technical and mental aspects.”
Concerning team preparations, Cowie mentioned, “As a coach, but not just me but the whole coaching staff, we’ll always want more, we’ll always think that things could go better, we’ll always strive on excellence. That being said, we’ve done well concerning all the different challenges regards to covid and facilities, and guys having (to) work, to try to work around their schedules to get out to train.
“I think we’ve done well, the guys have (made) lots of sacrifices towards attending training and giving off their all,” he continued. “Time-frame wise, it could have been better because it’s not really ideal to prep for three months for a tournament where players have been out of training and anything possible for about two years.
“All that being said, I think we’re in a frame of mind where we’ve done all that we can do to prepare for this tournament, and the players and staff are just about ready to go out there and perform.”
Concerning training amidst the covid19 restrictions, Cowie pointed out, “We have a nice mix of young and senior players. You’ll hear some complaints here and there (but) we’ve soldiered on. I think the coaching staff needs to be applauded because they’ve been very understanding of the players’ situation. “We’ve had a nice communication, a nice understanding between the technical staff and the players, with regards to the times that we are living in.”
With regards to the team’s departure to Chile, Cowie said, “We’re still waiting for confirmed bookings but we’re hoping it will be either Thursday or Friday.”
Asked about any more training sessions in Trinidad, the TT coach replied, “We would have done our last bit of preparation with a practice match on the weekend. The real prep will start next weekend when we get across there (which is) probably a week-and-a-half before our first game, and we have two practice matches lined up in Chile, to get a feel of the turf.
“It’s going to be a much different surface, a water-based surface to what we’re accustomed training on here. The pace of the game is going to be completely different. Some of the players are going to be facing international opposition for the first time in two years.”
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO TEAM
Playing Squad: Akim Toussaint (captain), Andrey Rocke (goalkeeper), Malcolm Baptiste (goalkeeper), Aidan De Gannes, Lyndell Byer, Jordan Reynos, Mickell Pierre, Jordan Vieira, Tariq Marcano, Teague Marcano, Shaquille Daniel, Joel Daniel, Ghardel Elcock, Ethan Reynos, Caleb Guissepi, Jovan Wren, Daniel Byer, Tarell Singh.
Travelling Reserves: Roshane Hamilton, Jacques Poon-Lewis (goalkeeper)
Training Reserve: Arrielle Bowen, Triston Grant, Cade Lue Sue, Shawn Phillip, David Coker.