North Vancouver’s Taylor Curran was 13 years old when he and his childhood teammates first watched the Canadian Men’s Field Hockey Team play on home soil against Chile. He described the experience as eye-opening, and 13 years later, Curran is hoping to open some eyes during the Men’s National Team’s upcoming home series with China and Pakistan A.
The games, taking place June 21-July 8, 2018, are split between Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, BC and Tamanawis Field in Surrey, BC. For Curran, the opportunities to play meaningful international matches on home soil come few and far between.
“I think we’re all super excited to play at home in front of our community. We don’t get this chance very often,” he said. “I know some of my friends and family will be out as well as some of the kids I coach in West Van.”
The Men’s National Team has had an unpredictable 2018 so far with positive results at a 5-Nations event in Malaga, Spain and somewhat disappointing results at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This summer home series offers the opportunity to improve and get valuable international competition for the Canadian men’s side.
Curran said the team didn’t play up to its standard at the Commonwealth Games and with the World Cup fast-approaching, these games will play a valuable role in the team’s development.
“We have the luxury of having a bigger roster for events at home. We can try some younger guys in different spots and we can work on different tactics,” he said. “We’re getting closer and closer to the World Cup every day and the intensity and focus [are] there.”
Paul Bundy, head coach of the Men’s National Team, said hosting more international matches on home soil is a part of the program’s overarching strategy leading towards the World Cup in the fall and Olympic qualification. For him, these games will be good indicators of the gaps they’ve closed since spring and where they can continue to improve.
“This gives us a really good opportunity to train as a collective and get competitive international matches,” he said. “Rather than just training in our home environment and playing against each other, we can test where we are at against quality international sides.”
Bundy echoed Curran’s sentiments about engaging the community and young players with the sport. For him, these home matches can be of great value not only for the athletes competing, but also for the community as a whole.
“This sort of series reaches our primary goal of getting more international matches but also it’s played in our backyard,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase our game and get the community behind us moving forward.”
“This is a rare opportunity to watch Team Canada in action against top international teams — right here at home,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism. “I hope this series inspires young people to get involved in sport, and helps Team Canada prepare for the Hockey World Cup in India, later this year.”
Curran said every player on the team has a story about when they first saw the Men’s National Team play. Now the script has flipped, and he knows how valuable of an opportunity this series can be for future stars of the Canadian field hockey community.
“Kids in Canada can turn on the TV and watch other major sports anytime they want. They don’t really have that chance with field hockey,” Curran said. “I think it makes a huge difference to those kids who are 13, 14, 15 years old…Getting the chance to watch the international game can really engage them in the sport.”
Canada kicks off the International Summer Series against Pakistan A on Thursday, June 21 at 7pm at Tamanawis Field in Surrey. Follow the action on our event page and social media accounts as the Men’s National Team battles Pakistan and China over the next 20 days.