PHOTO: Forward Oliver Scholfield in action during the first on-field session at the 2017 Men’s National Program Carding and Identification Camp in Vancouver on October 18, 2016.
Canada’s men’s field hockey team has officially kicked off its post-Rio program this week with its 2017 Carding and Identification Camp in Vancouver.
Since the completion of the 2016 Olympic Games in August, the Men’s National Program has been in a stand-down mode. Many senior athletes are back in school, others are working, and a large part of the group continues to play hockey in club environments.
But with a new competition year just around the corner, the Men’s National Program has reconvened with an eye on the future.
“For me, getting to the Olympics was sweet especially at a young age, being one of the younger guys on the team,” says Surrey, British Columbia’s Sukhi Panesar. “But it just pushes me personally to get our group ready to not just qualify for Tokyo but really compete there and try and better our results and final standing from Rio.”
Panesar competed in his first Olympic Games in Rio and as one of the younger players in the Senior Program. He will likely be counted on heavily in the next four-year cycle leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
But before Tokyo, Canada, which is now ranked 12th in the world, will compete in World League Round 2 in Dhaka, Bangladesh from March 4-12, 2017.
It kicks off a year focused on World Cup qualification.
“The meetings yesterdays showed up us what the next year has to come,” says forward Oliver Scholfield, who is looking at 2017 as a time to move forward in his international career.
“It’s definitely in my mind,” he says of the upcoming competition, which is still more than four months removed. “This is one of the years that I want to breakout and make some tours consistently.”
World League Round 2 is part of 2018 World Cup qualification. Canada will need to finish in the top two spots in Dhaka to move on to World League Round 3 in either London, England, or Johannesburg, South Africa, where World Cup spots are up for grabs.
Winning the Pan American Cup, which will be held in the United States later in the summer of 2017, is another avenue to World Cup qualification.
Canada’s participation in the 2016 Olympic re-fueled a program which had missed out on the previous Games in 2008. And with recent successes still front of mind and an improved World Raking, Canada is looking to continue to take steps forward in 2017.
“It’s exciting knowing that we have four years to build now towards our ultimate goal of getting to the Olympics in 2020,” Panesar says.