JPAC 2024

June 20, 2024

JPAC 2024

The Pan American Junior Cup Begins: The Defenders, Those Aiming for the World Cup, and Possible Surprises

From July 3 to 12, Surrey, Canada, will host another celebration of our sport: the U21 continental tournament that will once again fulfill the dreams of six national teams. The top three teams in both the men's and women's categories will qualify for the 2025 World Cup.

Every time the ball rolls in this competition, new opportunities arise: this year, the defending Pan American champions are the United States in the women's category and Argentina in the men's. However, the performance of Las Leoncitas at the 2023 World Cup, where they won the silver medal after losing to the Netherlands in the final, also puts them in strong contention for gold. This could lead to a repeat of the last continental final between these two women's teams, just as it happened in Barbados.

Moreover, there are teams that know the first place might be difficult but aim to reach the semifinals as their basic objective, hoping to secure one of the three spots the tournament offers. And let's not forget that there is always room for surprises, as matches do not always follow predictable outcomes based on rankings or past performances. In the end, it comes down to playing for 60 minutes, and the team that performs best on the day will go the furthest.

This edition will follow a single round, round-robin format, with the top team facing the fourth-placed team and the second-placed team facing the third-placed team in the semifinals. In the women's category, the participating teams are Argentina (ranked 2nd), the United States (7th), Canada (15th), Chile (16th), Uruguay (23rd), and Mexico (39th). In the men's category, the teams are Argentina (3rd), Canada (14th), Chile (17th), the United States (25th), Brazil (25th), and Mexico (44th).

Valentina Férola is a member of the Argentine team that was both the continental and world runner-up last year, and now she has another opportunity: "Wearing my country's jersey again means a lot to me. It is very satisfying, especially knowing all the dedication and effort behind it. I think the World Cup was a very different tournament from the one we are about to play, but it undoubtedly taught and helped all of us who played it to grow a lot. Luckily, we have the chance to pass on this experience to the newcomers,” said the experienced player of Las Leoncitas. She added, “Argentina always aims to be at the top.”

Her Chilean counterpart, although from a different position as a goalkeeper, also spoke about how Las Diablitas are preparing. In Barbados, they won the bronze medal (though they already had their spot secured as the host), and this season, the goal is to “improve past performances,” according to Monserrat Araya. “We are a young, new team, but we also have players with a lot of experience, so another achievement could be to grow individually and as a group. Qualifying for the next World Cup could be really significant for us. Now it's everyone against everyone, which makes it more challenging,” concluded the goalkeeper.

Uruguay is a team that always wants to surpass itself and aims to go further each time. Elisa Civetta is one of the most experienced players on the team. “It is an honor to represent my country, and sharing it with friends who are on the same wavelength makes it incomparable. We have a clear goal of seeking qualification for the World Cup. We have gone through an intense process and have the tools to achieve it. We want to rise to the occasion and make history again,” concluded one of Las Cimarroncitas.

The previous Pan American Cup ended as follows: 1st United States, Argentina runner-up, Chile completing the podium, Canada 4th, Uruguay 5th, Guyana 6th, and Barbados.

For the men, the competition begins on the same day, July 3, with the journey culminating on July 12, when it will be known who will travel to India in 2025.

Argentina is one of the historic winners. The story of Ignacio Nardolillo, of Los Leoncitos, is quite particular. This should have been his third Pan American Junior Cup, but COVID-19 in 2021 and an injury in 2023 kept him out at the last minute. However, now he wants to be there and play in this unique tournament. His revenge is personal, and he wants to defend the title with his teammates: “It was a shorter, quicker process compared to others I have been part of. We prepared with the seriousness this tournament demands, as it qualifies you for the World Cup. We are going to be well-prepared and will do everything to win and stay at the top. We are very eager to be there already,” explained the midfielder.

The captain of the U.S. men's team has dreamed of this moment for a long time, and in Barbados, they finished 4th, just short of their goal. Namit Mangat stated, “This is what I longed for when I started playing hockey. So, being the team captain in such a high-level tournament is a feeling I can't describe. We want to qualify, and I will do everything I can to lead the team to a gold medal. We have a great team and will take advantage of that,” concluded the young player.

In the men's category, the standings in the last edition ended with Argentina as champion, followed by Canada, bronze for Chile, the United States 4th, Guyana 5th, Brazil 6th, and Barbados 7th.

How will it end in 2024?

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