Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Defending champions Circus Circle will be going for a second straight title when they open their account against G.C. Foster College in the 2013 UWI/Pelicans Invitational Hockey seven-a-side tournament, at Mona Astro Turf today, starting at noon.
In the female section, to be contested by six teams, cup holders Tropics will flick off against UTech on field two, also at noon. The women will play for the title as a league, each team playing against the other with the teams having most points advancing to the final.
The contestants are Tropics, Sharpes Rebels, UWI, G.C. Foster, UTech and St Andrew Hockey Club.
Eight teams divided into two zones will vie for the men's title. Zone 'A' comprises Circus Circle, G.C. Foster College, Mico College and UTech, while Zone 'B' will feature UWI, Raiders United, Sharpes Rebels and Phoenyx. Zone winners will meet in the final for the UWI/Pelicans Invitational Men's Championship Trophy.
Circus Circle, who scored over 40 goals in the tournament last year and are Jamaica Hockey Federation league champions as well, will be looking to player/coach Aubyn Ferguson, Orville McTaggart and national players Keshawn Smith (captain), Sherman Brown and Gerald Richards to once again lift the trophy and $50,000 prize.
Absence of top players
"Our team will be weakened a bit by the absence of top players Kemar Mitchell and Charles Burton who for this tournament will play for their colleges, UWI and UTech, respectively.
"However, this will provide an opportunity for the younger players to step up and we are confident of retaining the title," said Ferguson, who is the current national coach.
Sports activities coordinator at UWI, Cherine Richards, is expecting a more competitive tournament this year.
"It is going to be lots of high energy and some very intense games," she promised.
"We have increased the number of participating teams this year and, all in all, this is good for the development of the sport," she added.
This year's sponsors include Hi-Lyte Sports Mix, Laribo Marketing, Seprod and Wynlee Distributors.
The respective champions will each receive $50,000, while there will be other awards for leading scorers, best goalkeeper, best defender, as well as the MVP awards.
The finals are scheduled for 7 p.m., followed by an after party and entertainment package.