Article Contributed By: Chelcie Mendonça
This group of field hockey players goes way back. It was the sport that brought them together, and it is the sport that has made them such great friends. The majority of the team had played high level field hockey together, whether it be provincial or national teams. From there, many went on to coach in some capacity, allowing them to experience competition at a high level. This past month, they competed together on the international stage at the 2019 Masters Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong.
John D’Souza, who represented Canada on the O45 team, shared, “the reality for a couple of us was that we wanted to play with Ken Pereira, my cousin, in a competitive tournament and see what we’re made of.”
Two-time Olympian Kenny Pereira shared with us his relations to his World Cup teammates and coach, “Well Johhny is my cousin, and a big part of why I played this sport in the first place. Louis Mendonça was also my first coach for field hockey with the GOA Golds, where I played with Cassius Mendonça. Most of the other guys, Juggy Mehal, Reggie Pereira, Sandy Singh, and Gary Singh, I’ve played with and against in club tournaments.”
When they’re not playing field hockey, they spend most of their time together bantering around ideas that they think will make the sport grow or become better on the world stage. These men share their passion for field hockey in hopes that others will have the same opportunities at creating fond memories through the amazing sport. D’Souza added, “as a group, we have always enjoyed each other’s company, and have always made it a priority to have at least one dinner together to share the years of accomplishments, laughs, failures, and memories.” Cassius Mendonça said, “going to a World Cup with your best friends is a dream, especially with players like Kenny Pereira. I would do it all over again!”
Through decades of experiences, their team culture was created by the competitiveness each athlete brought to the table. It was obvious that with older age, comes physical difficulties. Each athlete committed themselves to trainings and three practices a week to reach a competitive level that would set them up for success at the World Cup. D’Souza claims, “we all had one goal and we were committed to reaching that one goal.” They kept each other motivated to train individually through their group texts. The chemistry between them came easy due to everyone’s past history with one another.
Despite being over 40 years old, Pereira had been competing for years in age groups substantially younger than his own. Pereira continues to train with the Men’s Indoor National Team, where he competes with and against players that are up to 15 years younger than him. Pereira shares, “playing in this new age group is great! I was looking forward to playing against men my own age. I’m definitely not missing another masters event – it was way too fun!”
Louis Mendonça, recently inducted into Field Hockey Canada’s Hall of Fame, continues his presence on the international stage – but this time is different. This time around Mendonça coaches his fellow colleagues and best friends. He said, “coaching was different, but easy. They picked up on tactics and game play before I even had the chance to input my coaching ideas. Off the field was even better, it was just me hanging out with my friends.”
The 045 Canadian team ended the tournament on a positive note by defeating North American rival, USA, in a shootout. While the on-court competition was great, the time spent with one another on the road, in the locker room and in social environments is what really keeps these men coming together.
Learn more about the Field Hockey Canada masters programming by clicking here.