Jamaica's women looking to make big play for hockey at CAC

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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BARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Jamaica's senior women's field hockey team is looking to make a motivational play for the sport's development at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia.

The hockey nationals, both male and female, were the first of Jamaican teams to arrive in the South American country on Monday night and Christine Bartley, head coach of the women's outfit, said they are looking to earn a top result that would attract greater numbers in youth to play the sport.

“One of our aims is to represent well, to kind of bring back field hockey as one of the top team sports in Jamaica. That is also important for us and that is one of our objectives; to make sure we perform well to lift the sport,” said Bartley, whose team will bow into action in a Pool B fixture against Barbados on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala are also in Pool B, from which the top two will advance to the semis.

“Once we do well we should motivate younger players to gravitate to field hockey. That is one of the problems that I think we're having — we don't have enough young persons to gravitate to field hockey to make it a little more competitive in terms of selection of players,” she observed. “…there are a lot of young players who look up to our senior players, so if we do well as a senior team then it should help our junior programme and the development of junior players.”

A prime method of influencing that change would come from winning the gold medal here in Colombia. Jamaica once achieved that feat, at the CAC Games in 1990 and Bartley thinks it's attainable.

She said: “I think it is possible, but it's not going to be easy because the Games would've gotten more competitive now in terms of teams playing a lot more games to get here; it's a qualifier to get here so it means persons would've prepared more and done more than what is needed to have the competitive edge over each other. So it's up to us to apply ourselves.

“After the qualifiers we'd have seen a lot of improvements from our team and also the other teams that were in the qualifiers who we will be playing here, so I think we've improved and it's just for us to apply what we've learnt and to make the right decisions at the right time,” added Bartley.

The Jamaica women's team advanced to these games as runners-up of the CAC Qualifiers, after going down 0-1 to Guyana in the final at Mona Hockey Turf last November. They had also beaten Guatemala, who are now in their CAC group, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, as well as drawn with Guyana goalless in the preliminaries.

Looking at their main competition and ultimate goal, Bartley said: “In the group stages we know that Trinidad (and Tobago) has a good programme, Barbados also and in the cross-over we expect Cuba as the defending champions to be very competitive Mexico, Dom Rep, they're all competitive teams and those are teams that are ranked above us so, therefore, with our aim and goal upsets can happen and we're looking to do so in this tournament.”

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