The Canadian Men’s Under-18 National Field Hockey Team got off to a quick start at the Youth Olympic Games with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Republic of South Africa Sunday in Nanjing, China.
The level of competition in the new Hockey Fives format of the game was relatively unknown to the Canadians heading into the Games and thus coming out with a victory in their first match is a great first step in the tournament.
“Not knowing what to expect from any of the teams in this new format of Hockey Fives made it challenging to prepare ahead of our first match,” said Team Manager and Canadian field hockey veteran Scott Sandison. “In some ways it was easy as we could only focus on ourselves and the team delivered on what was asked of them.”
It didn’t start as planned for the Canadians, however, after they surrendered the first goal of the match to the South Africans in the third minute of play.
The response, though, was encouraging.
Balraj Panesar netted two goals before before tenth minute was up to give Canada a 2-0 lead after the first period. Canada’s calmness and resiliency was a good sign according to their head coach.
“We discussed as a team what our goals were prior to the tournament and one of them was to play consistent hockey across an entire match,” said Canadian head coach Inderpal Sehmbi. “I think we did that tonight.”
The second period was scoreless before an outburst of Canadian goals in the third.
First Brandon Pereira scored in the 29th minute, followed by Amrith Sidhu and Vikram Sandhu in the thirty-first and thiry-sixth minute respectively.
The Canadians will now face Spain in their second match Monday at 7:30pm local time (4:30am PST/7:30am EST) before taking on Bangladesh on Tuesday at 7:00pm local (4:00am PST/7:00am EST).
“Our team is happy with some of the progress we have made since we centralized in Vancouver 5 weeks ago,” adds Sehmbi. “We’re looking forward to the next two days of matches which will be important to our team.”
For a complete schedule and results click here.
You can also visit nanjing2014.orgfor more information about the Games.