Turf smoothens preparation for Hockey World League
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's men hockey coach, Nicholas Brown, said the reopening of the newly resurfaced Mona Astro Turf could not have come at a better time for the national team as they prepare to host round one of this year's Hockey World League, which will be held from September 30 to October 5.
Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), Barbados, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic are the other teams that will be playing in the tournament.
The Hockey World League is split up into four rounds that last over a two-year cycle. For one cycle, the World League will serve as the qualifier for the World Cup, and the next is a qualifier for the Olympics.
The Jamaican team will gain ranking points from the International Hockey Federation for participating in the World League and could also gain valuable international playing experience against other national teams, with minimal travel in the first two rounds.
Brown told The Gleaner in an interview yesterday that since the facility was reopened last Thursday, the national team has been using the surface to sharpen its skills for next month's championships.
"The field is back up and we have been training on it since last Thursday, and we have played on it, just to try and get a feel of it," said Brown.
"The technical people from Argentina were here to make some adjustments, and so now we are trying to get the team fit," he said. "Since we didn't have the surface, we were doing a lot of physical and strength work and also some work on the grass to try and build hand-eye coordination," Brown said.
"Now that we are back on the field, the players are a little bit rusty and we are trying to get used to the smooth surface because as you know, every field rolls differently, and so things are progressing very well."
Brown expects T&T and Barbados to offer stiff competition.
"The only teams that I know of are Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados because I have seen them in international competitions," said Brown.
"Most recently, Trinidad and Tobago participated at the Commonwealth Games, and so they have been getting a lot of international experience, and so I believe that those two teams are going to be our hardest challenge going forward," he said.
"However, tactically, we have been preparing for them, but for the other three teams in the competition, I don't know much about them because they have not been going anywhere much. But we have an understanding of their style of play as we had seen them four years ago," Brown pointed out.
He stated that his Jamaica team was very young, the average age being 25 years. Despite this, Brown said the players are confident, enthusiastic, and they are also willing to learn.