Shortly after the National Championships concluded on Sunday night, 71 individuals were eagerly in line to check in for the Junior Men’s Development Squad Camp, led by U21 Head Coach Inderpal Sehmbi and U18 Head Coach Geoff Matthews. Many of these men had played at Nationals in the days leading up, either having won a medal for their province or making it onto the Gryphon Hockey Tournament All-Star Teams, and were keen on honing their skills and learning from experienced staff like Sehmbi and Matthews, both also Junior National Team talent identifiers throughout Nationals.
Held from July 22–26, 2018 at the same renowned Back Campus Fields that hosted a thrilling Nationals, all previous JDS athletes — including any additional players who were added this year — were invited to the distinguished camp, now in its second year of existence. Described by Matthews as a good opportunity to “see guys outside of their provinces”, he appreciates the unfamiliarity that JDS Camp brings.
“Too often players get comfortable with playing with the same players and surroundings,” he said. “Having them in a camp environment where they’re playing for selection gives them the opportunity to really challenge themselves mentally and physically.”
The purpose, as Sehmbi puts it, is simple: not only are they here to evolve their gameplay, but this is a chance to provide players with more information and grow their technical and tactical knowledge from previous years. Considering they haven’t seen some of the athletes since March and some even since last summer, athlete development in particular is something they really strive for and appreciate.
“The physical maturity, emotional maturity, and overall character amongst our group have improved so much. We’ve really grown, and I think camp really puts players under pressure and instills new core concepts,” Sehmbi said.
BC athlete Gavin Bains, who was a part of the team that won gold in the U23 tournament last week, expressed how exciting it is to see new and old faces involved with the camp.
“I know we’ve got a lot of world-renowned athletes here also helping with coaching which has helped me quite a bit,” he said. “There are also newer players to learn from since everyone plays a different style of hockey across the country.”
White hosting the camp after Nationals gives the coaches easy access to athletes and allows for provincial coaches to be integrated into the program, it has its downsides as well. For instance, Sehmbi said that they have a tired group with them, which makes athlete management a priority to mitigate the potential for injury.
Nevertheless, BC’s Rowan Childs described the back-to-back work as something he finds “really fun” — considering the potential to represent Canada in the foreseeable future.
“It’s a lot of work for sure, especially right a long week at Nationals,” Childs said. “But you can get so much out of it by working with coaches like Indy and Geoff and practising 5-a-side drills to help with Youth Olympics trials and our Junior World Cup qualifier.”
And that’s exactly what awaits our hopeful Junior Development Squad. For many, it will be the end of a 12-year process as the men can choose to move onto the senior level and/or resume training in the fall at select national camps around Canada.
Be sure to follow the JDS on Field Hockey Canada’s social media channels as we near another exciting year of new tours and familiarize ourselves with up-and-coming talent.