Guyana Hockey Board
to stage international indoor tourney

This article is reprinted with the kind permisssion
of the Stabroek News (edition of November 14, 2006).

By Michael DaSilva

The Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) will stage its largest international indoor hockey tournament ever, beginning November 23 at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. The tournament is being sponsored mainly by Diamond Mineral Water and Carib Beer.

Addressing members of the media and special invitees at the launching ceremony held at the GCC pavilion yesterday, the GHB president Philip Fernandes disclosed that this year's tournament had attracted 19 teams, including 12 regional and international teams.

He however pointed out that of the 12 regional teams, to date 10 had responded positively, while the board was still to receive confirmation from the other two.

Fernandes said national men's club champions, Everest Hikers, would spearhead Guyana's quest for the US$1,000 first prize money that is up for grabs in that category, while national first division club champions GCC and Old Fort will also be seeking first prize honours.

In the ladies' category, GCC, Everest and Old Fort clubs will also be seeking to claim the US$500 first prize while in the masters' division, Guyana will be represented by the Carib Degenerates club. This category carries a first prize worth US$500 also.

The foreign invasion in the various categories will come from Brooklyn All Stars club of New York, Toronto Galaxy club of Canada, Malvern and Notre Dame clubs of Trinidad and the Empire club of Barbados in the men's category; Ventures, Raiders and Malvern clubs of Trinidad in the ladies category and Old Fort Masters club of the USA, Fatima, Maslvern and Queen's Park clubs all of Trinidad in the masters category.

Fernandes explained that the Raiders and Queen's Park clubs were still to confirm their participation. He, however, said that he was confident that the two teams would come for the much-anticipated tournament.

Fernandes said the tournament, which started in 2004, has been a resounding success over the past years and he anticipates that this year's tournament will surpass the others in terms of the competition.

"Our Gold sponsor, Demerara Distillers Limited and its Diamond Mineral Water brand, has maintained their support as has the Chico brand of the Beharry Group of Companies. And we are happy this year to also welcome Carib Beer of Ansa McAl as the sponsor of our Carib Veterans competition which is a new feature in this year's schedule," the national midfield player stated.

According to Fernandes, Chico Sweets will sponsor the Chico Junior Exhibition match on the final night of the tournament, involving children between the ages of eight and 13.

Fernandes said the master's tournament will be played for the first time since the tournament's inauguration and Ansa McAl answered the call for support for this category.

Fernandes said Trinidad's FIH qualified indoor umpires Susie Gomes and Donny Gobinsingh and two other FIH-qualified umpires will be on duty for the duration of the tournament.

The attendance of Gomes and Gobinsingh is being made possible by May's Shopping Centre.

This year's tournament will also see for the first time a representative from the Pan American Hockey Federation's Competition Committee in attendance. That person is Derek Sandison of Canada.

While here, Sandison will conduct two hockey development workshops, one for umpires and the other for technical officials.

Fernandes said the GHB is very grateful to have such an integral member of the Pan American Hockey Federation here to observe and assist with the tournament and Guyana is sure to benefit significantly from Sandison's input.

Fernandes said the Board is also grateful to the National Sports Commission and Director of Sports, Neil Kumar, who has been very supportive as usual, regarding the use of the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. He also expressed gratitude to the Guyana Olympic Association which has greatly assisted the Board in the past with the hosting of the opening ceremony.

Fernandes said the service of the Guyana Police Force will be fully utilized to ensure adequate security.

"Guyana's hockey development hinges greatly on this tournament as we are so far unable to host international teams for the outdoor game as we lack the artificial surface to make it attractive to clubs and which is mandatory for international games," Fernandes declared.

He said this tournament will give local club teams much needed exposure and at the same time reclaim Guyana's stature as a nation that is well equipped to stage international hockey events.

According to Fernandes, over 180 players are expected from overseas and this will serve to boost Guyana's sport tourism programme.

This article is reprinted with the kind permisssion
of the Stabroek News (edition of November 14, 2006).