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How the FIH disrespected Caribbean hockey and robbed our youth teams

We do not usually have to wait long for examples of the smaller, less heralded countries receiving the short end of the stick. Field hockey is no different.

I wanted to pen an opinion piece since the July 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto but resisted for fear of being labelled as emotional—a curse for any woman—since my son, Tariq Marcano, represented Trinidad and Tobago at that tournament. But recent events have forced my hand.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Tariq Marcano (right) tries to block a pass during international hockey action against Brazil.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Tariq Marcano (right) tries to block a pass during international hockey action against Ireland.

The 2016 Junior Pan American Games, which is a qualifying tournament for the Junior World Cup, was originally scheduled to take place between May 20 to 28 in Toronto.

However, four Caribbean nations, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, made representation for the dates to be changed to June 20 to 28, to allow for students to sit examinations in the region.

This proposal was vetoed at the recently concluded FIH board meeting.

The FIH is the world governing body for hockey and this decision must raise concern about whether they have the future of the sport at heart. Or if they are only concerned with the countries that are already established as the superpowers of hockey.

Is the thinking: why bother with the four Caribbean countries when they would most likely finish in the bottom four teams anyway? If so, then why bother promoting hockey as a world sport for all countries?

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago hockey ladies prepare for international battle.
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago hockey ladies prepare for international battle.

I am still trying to figure out why the need to have this tournament in 2016 at all since, for the past seven Junior World Cups, the competition has been held every four years.

Was a decision taken to revert to a three-year cycle, as was used for the first three Junior World Cups? And, if that is the case, was this properly communicated to all the countries involved?

Was the FIH decision influenced by the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?

There are a lot of unanswered questions in this matter. However, I do feel that if the United States, Canada or Argentina teams were affected by the tournament dates then something would have been done.

And, no, I’m not using the ‘victim syndrome’ that most people in power feel powerless people suffer from. I am just stating a fact.

The richer and more powerful countries in the world always seem to get preferential treatment.

This tournament might be the only opportunity some of the players get to represent their country and they have been preparing for this tournament for a long time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Teague Marcano (right) tries to steal the ball during international hockey action against Australia.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Teague Marcano (right) tries to steal the ball during international hockey action against Brazil.

For the upper echelon in the hockey world, the Junior Pan American tournament might be of little consequence. But to countries like ours that do not get the opportunity to participate regularly in international hockey tournaments, the FIH has essentially stripped us of our four year cycle in the game.  And that hurts.

Yes, if we want we can participate with a weaker team. But, let’s face it, we have a very small pool from which to select our players.

Maybe we should host our own tournament in June called: “Countries That The FIH Did Not Consider Important Enough To Facilitate International Tournament.”

AboutLisa Hernandez

Lisa Hernandez
Lisa Hernandez works with a local diplomatic mission and has been involved in field hockey for over 30 years.  She is a former national player and international hockey umpire who is devoted to contribute to sport in whatever capacity.

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19 comments

  1. I think personally that it is PAHF that is doing us an injustice more so than FIH

  2. Its not just about the exam (which is extremely important) There should be a high priority on youth development in every sports. Junior/Youth tournaments are the foundation of all federations and associations. Those international federations need the Caribbean and developing nations to increase the number of participating countries, which gives them validity and qualifies them to be an Olympic sports. However, it would appears that once they get the numbers they couldn’t careless because arranging dates to ensure all can participate is a must.

  3. Greetings, what Lisa has stated here is valid. Also whilst I understand all of the replies, I personally think that the FIH could come to a compromise and look at equal opportunity. By this I mean the introduction of zones that would play at a different time in the year with the winners of each Zone either advancing straight to the Junior World cup or playing in a Junior World League Final to see who qualifies for the world cup. Remember the most important thing here is the development and growth of hockey. Mainly an Equal Opportunity for all.

  4. Its not just about the exam (which is extremely important) There should be a high priority on youth development in every sports. Junior/Youth tournaments are the foundation of all federations and associations. Those international federations need the Caribbean and developing nations to increase the number of participating countries, which gives them validity and qualifies them to be an Olympic sports. However, it would appears that once they get the numbers they careless because arranging dates to ensure all can participate is a must.

  5. You are wrong and you are playing the victim. You don’t think that other hockey nations do not have exams? However the study system is different, in this case they cannot adapt the calendar according to the examination of 4 squads of 16 players each. You are wrong and you are playing the victim part, in other countries kids this age they not only study, some work and they have to request to personally have either time off, someone to replace them or to change the examination dates. The difference is the system, while your 4 countries have national examinations, other countries don’t but you are taking things way to personal…

    • Sherlan Cabralis

      The Caribbean islands are the victims because they are the ones affected by the decision of the FIH. These exams cannot be rearranged. I don’t know where you from, but due to size and numbers the limitations are obvious. So, when the FIH alienate 4 countries, I would said they are badly wounded and are victims of inconsiderate FIH administrators.

      • Nobody is a victim here but let’s use logic here:
        20+ countries have no problem with the calendar…
        4 countries have problems, so, how about those 4 countries join the world?

        • Lisa Hernandez

          Not sure where you get 20+ countries?? Throughout the history of the junior panam a total of 15 different countries participated. The most in any 1 tournament was 13. So if 4 teams are unable to attend, it’s actually more than 25%. Maybe you need to join the world and do a bit of research.

    • Lisa Hernandez

      I am trying to understand your comment and your claim I am wrong. Wrong about what? I wrote the article so yeah it’s personal. I also have concerns about the tournament so I commented. If there are other countries that are affected the they are free to comment as well. The issue I raise affects at least 25% of the eligible countries so if that’s not cause for concern I don’t know what is.

  6. This has also affected Guyana severely. Staging this tournament during the CSEC, CAPE exam period will eliminate 5 of our starting 11 players and a further 6 members of the training squad that have been preparing for this tournament since August 2014.

  7. Nice to see you giving air time to hockey Lasana. Some valuable points about youth sport and the global inequity faced by small nations in the piece.

  8. CAS isn’t an option for possible recourse Lisa Hernandez? Are other regions having their qualifying tournaments for the Junior World Cup in May as well?

  9. I understand her concern for the youth and exams but I do not agree with the author’s high level of expectation of an international organization to place such priority on local exams schedules.

    • It’s more regional than local, the English speaking Caribbean region have 1 examination body that deals with the exams for the entire English speaking islands. This body took over from the British version and i’m sure that Britain doesn’t play their qualifiers during exam times, but I could be wrong as I have not researched it. Also even if they do, they have a bigger pool of players to choose from

  10. Welcome to the real,cold world.