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.
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?
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.
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.”