Thanks in great part to the challenge of a fellow Masters player from overseas, “Why doesn’t Canada enter Masters events?”, Field Hockey Canada was successful in sending 2 teams (one Men’s and one Women’s) to the 2016 Masters World Cup in Canberra, Australia.
We are sending 3 teams to the 2018 World Cup in Terrassa, Spain in July: 2 Women’s teams and, regrettably, only 1 Men’s team. More than 40 Men signed up to play but there were insufficient numbers in either the Over-45 and Over-55 categories to allow for teams in 2 age groups. The ability to enter 2 teams (A and B) in one age group is no longer allowed under IMHA WC rules; and there is at the present time no Tournament Trophy competition for second teams such as a “Maple Leaf” Team, as there is at World Grand Masters in age divisions of Over-60 and above.
However, in addition to the 3 teams in IMHA Tournament, there is also a Canadian Team Over-60 men’s team entering the Grand Masters WC in Barcelona in June.
Canada has few regional Masters events and local organizations. In the last 3 years, Vancouver’s mainland area has experimented with a Masters Event schedule that “fits” into the normal league season play. Events are planned around long-weekend holidays: Family Day (Feb), Victoria (May) and Labour Day (Sept), Thanksgiving (Oct) weekends and Remembrance Day. It is the Masters Steering Committee’s recommendation that other regions (Victoria, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa) attempt to copy this model and thus encourage participation in Masters hockey and player engagement.
Thanks to these Masters events, we have established greater inclusivity and gender balance within the Masters movement. This has been reinforced by joint planning for Men and Women’s World Cup teams over the last 3 years. Hopefully, this may also lead to establishing greater inclusivity and gender balance in other Field Hockey programs across the country.
Internationally, Canada is just now catching up on a world-wide trend in the growth of Masters hockey, but our Canada Masters is very much a fledgling organization compared to most other countries.
One area of prime concern is to ensure a fair system of assessing best athletes for events. The Masters Steering Committee has a draft set of invitational criteria, but the greater difficulty is in assessing players across the country. From a practical perspective, this will involve finding qualified individuals who can assess players whilst they play in regular league matches or events. It is also intended to include umpires and possibly other Tournament officials in team contingents as other countries do.
For the 2016 Canberra World Cup, invitational trials were not required: all Men and Women who wished to sign up were invited. Game results were not good but Canada’s participation was welcomed. For this year’s 2018 World Cup, we had 40+ male players interested at the Over-45 level, hence the need for invitational trials, albeit these were centred in Vancouver. At over-60 level there were initially 21 male players.
We anticipate that team selection for the 2020 World Cup will incorporate field assessments during regular league season play as well as talent invitational trials comprising fitness and skills;
Likewise, it is important that players become involved with such leadership as may be required to encourage others into participation. There appear to be several thriving Women’s Masters chapters across the country and we believe that scheduling Men’s Masters events could produce a number of teams for round-robin events on 1 or 2 occasions each year.