July 3, 2010
The athletes of the 2010 FHC National Championships have plenty to compete for in Victoria outside of a domestic title. From the national coaching staff of Field Hockey Canada to provincial representatives and scouts from academic institutions, everyone is seeking talent to improve their programs.
The women’s national program is using the event to identify their extended squad for the upcoming test series with Chile as well as the Commonwealth Games. So far the quality displayed on the pitch is impressing head coach Louis Mendonca.
“It’s certainly getting more competitive,” says the Toronto native. “Some of the junior players are way better than two years ago. The programs some of the provincial associations are running have been useful.”
The athletes also seem to be aware that they are being watched.
“There seems to be some nervousness (from the athletes),” continued Mendonca. “They know this is a meaningful event and the stakes make them perform.”
The men’s national program is also identifying a squad of athletes to train ahead of October’s Commonwealth Games. Recent retirements from the team leave room for some younger players.
“There are a number of junior players here and it’s a good opportunity to see how they perform in a tournament format,” said men’s national head coach Alan Brahmst.
To add to the competitive experience on the men’s side the United States national team was invited to take part.
“The invitation of the US is important as it strengthens and add to the quality (of the tournament) moving forward,” continued Brahmst.
While the Americans cannot be crowned as National Champions, they can certainly take home the bragging rights by winning the tournament.
Field hockey scouts from NCAA institutions such as Northeasters, University of California at Berkley, and Boston College have also been spotted around the pitch.
As competitive opportunities grow for athletes beyond domestic programming the quality and competitiveness of the annual senior national championships is sure to continue to enhance.