March 31 to April 9, 2005 - Havana, Cuba
As to further accelerate women hockey in the Pan American region, the Netherlands Antilles Hockey Association (NAHA) and the Cuban Hockey Federation completed an Inter-Nation Match Series in Havana, Cuba. This official Inter-Nation Match Series was promoted to further expose Antillean and Cuban women hockey within the PAHF region as well as to provide competitive play experiences for both teams on higher international level. The visit to Havana further served the objective to strengthen the hockey ties and friendship between the Cuban and Antillean Hockey Federations.
A total of 4 games were played during April 1 to April 8, 2005 in Havana, Cuba. The matches were played at the national Hockey Stadium 'Antonio Maceo' (politan water pitch) in Santiago de Las Vegas, 25 kilometres South of La Havana with the following results:
The 4 matches were executed in full accordance with FIH match regulations. For the matches the Cuban Hockey Federation provided qualified and experienced umpires and match officials. The Inter-Nation Match Series was well organised by the Cuban Hockey Federation. All logistical aspects were in place and during the entire visit the Cuban hockey authorities paid much attention to details to the Antillean team's comfort. The Cuban hockey authorities demonstrated once again that excellent match preparation and execution is one of their trademarks. The Cuban national women's team members and officials extended a sincere and very warm hospitality to the Antillean team during their stay in Cuba.
On the sporting side, the 4 matches proved to be tough encounters for both teams. Although the Cuban squad won all games, at no point in time was it a 'Cuban walk-over'. While the Cuban players were able to capitalise on their physical dominance and speed, the Antillean team had both technical and tactical advantages to offer which forced the Cuban squad to fight heavily for their deserved victories. Particular game 4 could have been won by the Antillean team but coach Lothar Duelberg saw his team waste eight corners, one penalty stroke, and another 5 clear-cut chances that should have produced at least a hatful of goals. But it wasn't to be. Like in the first three games, the Antillean women just couldn't find a way past the Cuban national team goalie. And because the Cubans possess an outstanding corner specialist in captain Jadira Puentes, the Antillean also lost their forth game with a shutout of 0:2. Nevertheless Antillean team goalie Charlotte Hartmans van de Rijdt and centre back Laurien Dumas as well as defender Truke van Boxtel were noted as the outstanding players in the guest squad. Cuban coach Hilario Yera had praise for the Antillean team efforts recognising their excellent positioning, good passing skills and fighting spirit till the final whistle. Antillean coach Lothar Duelberg positively noted the Cuban outstanding hockey devotion, physical superiority and individual skill level of all players.
This Inter-nation Match Series showed again how important it is to meet on more regular bases outside the scheduled international PAHF tournaments. Regional hockey development and inter-cultural exchanges as much as friendships were high on this tour agenda. Central American and Caribbean women hockey have much to offer, definitely catching up with the top teams of the Pan American region. This superb effort by both the Cuban and Antillean Hockey Federations is living proof that women hockey in the region is highly competitive despite their limited resources. Commitment, devotion and good organisation are the keywords here to drive the regional hockey ball forward. With no doubt Cuban women hockey is one of the best in the PAHF region. For those having witnessed the Antillean women's team during their last year appearance at the Pan American Cup in Barbados (7th place) will appreciate the remarkable progress in hockey development this little island nation has made since than. For both teams though, and that is for sure, the best is still to come.
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