For Rowan Childs, the opportunity to wear the maple leaf in competition is a dream come true. To do so alongside hometown — and now university — teammate Brendan Guraliuk at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games is on a whole other level.
“Of course, it’s an amazing feeling to represent Canada. It is also very special to represent my home community of Tsawwassen,” he said. “I’ve already received emails and texts wishing me good luck. It really means a lot.”
Tsawwassen is a small coastal community on the outskirts of Vancouver, BC. Despite its size, the city has a history of turning out quality international athletes. When Guraliuk and Childs were named to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games field hockey roster, they became the next names in a line of many Tsawwassen field hockey players to represent Canada on the world stage.
Names like Rob Short, Sara McManus, Guy Manwaring, Mark Pearson and Graeme Carswell come to mind when thinking of Tsawwassen/Delta field hockey. Both Guraliuk and Childs particularly remember the instruction and guidance of Manwaring and Carswell. Manwaring played for the senior national team in the 80s and 90s and has since played for the Canadian Masters national team as well. According to Childs and Guraliuk, Manwaring was a staple in the Tsawwassen Field Hockey Community and instrumental to their success.
Carswell was another Tsawwassen community leader that Childs and Guraliuk remember with great fondness. In 2016, Carswell passed away at age 21 in a tragic fishing accident. He left a lasting impact with everyone who was coached by him and those who knew and played alongside him.
“[Carswell] coached me for a long time and was one of the guys I looked up to the most,” Guraliuk said. “I remember he taught us how to tomahawk one of the first time he coached us. He would bring back the skills and strategies from his junior national training and share it with us at the club.”
Both Childs and Guraliuk attribute, in part, their success to growing up in a tight community with lots of support. According to Guraliuk, the support hasn’t stopped just because they’ve moved onto university and national teams.
“Our community is going to support us throughout the whole tournament,” Guraliuk said. “We want to showcase that a small community like Tsawwassen can produce world class players and we want to make them proud.”
The competition kicks off on October 7 with Canada’s first pool-play game against Austria. As defending silver medallists, Canada has high expectations at this tournament. But according to Childs and Guraliuk, the team is simply looking to play their best hockey at the right time and enjoy the Youth Olympic experience. For Childs, who has represented Canada before at the Junior World Cup, he is relishing the experience and can’t wait for competition to begin.
“Going to a major multisport games, wearing the maple leaf. You just can’t ask for much more than that,” Childs said.
The 12-team men’s YOG Hockey 5s competition features Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Vanuatu and Zambia. The competition takes place October 6-14, 2018 in Buenos Aries, Argentina.