2019 Pan American Games, Lima - CUBA

Next, we are going to tell a bit of the history of Cuban hockey. Cuban hockey began in Cuba in 1969, Jesus Molina was its first commissioner and maximum promoter of our sport in our country. The first steps were as a recreational activity playing in the street, with the sticks that were golf at that time, the goalkeeper protections were those of the baseball catcher as well as balls and gloves, face protection did not exist.

The first national competition was held in the sports city in 1971 as an activity of the National Recreation Directorate, 6 teams participated, Camagüey presented 2 one with the name of the province and another as Orientals, but with players from it. This province at that time was the greatest power in Cuban hockey.

The first international participation was not until 1975 where the first game was held against a Canadian team named Jockey XI at the time, also made up of players from India and Ghana. Cuba entered through the big door to the international arena since the results were in favor of Cuba 2 to 1 and 2 to 0 and a third match that ended tied at 3. The first player to score a goal for Cuba abroad was the Camaguey, Mario Tomas Ruiz Exposito. The first hockey competition abroad was in 1976 in Poland IV Youth Friendship Games for under 18 players, where Cuba obtained a creditable 4th place. Cuba manages to participate in the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1979 and reaches 4th place, being defeated by Mexico 2-1.

Decade of the 80 begins with the participation of Cuba in the Olympic Games of Moscow 1980 in which it also obtained a meritorious 5th place. Two years later the 1982 Central American and Caribbean Games in La Havana and Cuba achieves its first gold medal in a disputed match against the Mexican national team, winning 2-1, where Lazaro Hernández, the so-called "Caribbean hurricane" by many, he scores the winning goal and reaches the award as a scorer, making him the 1st Cuban scorer in the Central American Games. The aforementioned title has been defended for almost 40 years, thus achieving Central American supremacy. The only exceptions in which we did not achieve this title were in 2002 and 2010 since there was no participation from the Cuban delegation.

In the 80s, women's hockey began to develop in Cuba, and after a great battle, it was possible to participate for the first time in the 1986 Central American Games in Mexico. The team was led by the illustrious Guillermo Stakemann, Cuba's foremost activist educator and trainer at the time. Guillermo himself owned all the relevant hockey titles in both men's and women's named by many the father of hockey.

Women's hockey achieved their 1st Central American gold medal in Ponce in 1993, a title that has also been defended to date, which also makes them the most successful in this competition.

The youth from Cuba did not lag behind in the men's branch either, since we have two silver medals at the Pan American level. These men's medals gave the right to participate in the World Cups in Terrassa, Spain 1993 and in Milton Keynes, England in 1997, placed us in 8th and 10th place in the world.

In 1999, the long-awaited bronze medal at the Pan American level was obtained for the first time, a result that was repeated in 2003, this being one of the most relevant results in Cuban hockey. For many, the most relevant was the first Pan-American Cup held at the Antonio Maceo stadium in Havana in 2000, where Cuba defeated Argentina and Canada for the first and only time and thus participated directly in the 2002 World Cup in Malaysia. where the XVI place was reached and a unique experience without a doubt, at the highest level of world hockey.

After 2003 at the Pan American level, the bronze medal could not be hung again. The Cuban women's team has achieved as the best Pan American result, the 4th place in Mar del Plata 1995. The effort has never been lacking to try to overcome it and we are confident that one day they will improve that history. We know that the level in America is very good, but we have the confidence and the strength to continue.

Relevant data from the history of Cuban Hockey:

- Top national scorer in the beginning of Cuban hockey until 1980, Bernabé Izquierdo Martínez , with a mark of up to 34 goals for national competition.

- First international scorer, Lazaro Hernández Rangel, the only player to have participated in an intercontinental cup.

- Participating by Americas team, Juan Carlos Benavides Ojeda.

- Cuban female top scorer of all time Yakelin Drake.

- Cuban umpires who participated at the highest international level, Alfonso Fraga and Aristóteles Puentes, the latter participated in the Youth Friendship Games and was the best umpire in the tournament.

- Cuba's foremost coach from the ground up, the activist and baker from Camagüey, Henry Soutton Limonta.

This is a brief summary of our history, there are many relevant data from this time which will not be mentioned here, they are still fresh and may create some discord and the reason for all this is that a little of our rich history is known and remember many who are no longer with us.

Thanks to all the hockey players and lovers for belonging to such a beautiful discipline, to which all of us dedicate our love. I know that some will feel sadness, others happiness reading this, but the important thing is that today we are 51 years and we are congratulating ourselves in front of the world.

Congratulations to Cuban hockey!