On Saturday, the Men’s National Team will take the field for their first international competition since February. Canada’s first match of the 2012 Champions Challenge I is against Korea at 10:00am local time in Quilmes, Argentina. Korea will be a tough opponent – they are currently ranked seventh in the world. But our “youthful, talented and extremely fit group” is ready to compete. The men have been in Argentina for the past week to prepare for the tournament. We recently caught up with several athletes and Head Coach Anthony Farry to see how things are going.
FHC: How excited are the guys to get back on the pitch together?
Coach Farry: Everyone is very excited to be back on tour after a long break – there is a very positive feeling amongst the group. The injection of some younger guys has only added to the enthusiasm to compete and do well.
FHC: What are the current team vibes?
Scott Tupper: Team vibes are good so far. We have two practice scrimmages under our belts, which helped us get the legs under us and work out a few tactical adjustments. It has been good to get used to the pace again and have a feel for competition before the tournament starts, as well get some of our newer faces adjusted to the step up.
Matt Guest: The team is feeling good. We have shown steady improvement throughout our practice matches. It is a younger group here with four guys making their international debut in the first match. This brings mixed feelings of nerves and excitement within the group, which I think is a positive for us.
Richard Hildreth: The team vibes are great. We have quite a few newer guys on the team that are all fitting in well. It’s always a nice feeling when everyone gets along and is able to joke around away from the pitch. All the guys are very excited to get the tournament started.
FHC: So how’s the weather?
Tupper: Up until Thursday, the weather was superb. It was a bit of an adjustment playing in the hot sun, but certainly not a complaint. On Thursday our morning walk was under grey skies and as we ate breakfast the skies opened and it poured rain for a few hours. Unfortunately we had to cancel a scrimmage due to a completely flooded pitch, but we made the most of it with some fitness work and a rain-soaked soccer battle.
Guest: For the first few days the blue skies and high temperatures were quite a change from the climate in Vancouver. The downpour on Thursday made the guys feel a bit more at home.
Hildreth: It’s always nice to get out of Vancouver at the end of November. For the most part it has been sunny and hot down here – obviously an adjustment, but we really don´t mind having to adjust to sunny skies.
FHC: Highlight of the trip so far?
Tupper: So far – the soccer game! It was a 2 – 0 win for the white team with a surprising pair of goals from forward dynamo Dave Jameson. Honorable mention to Gabbar Singh who came up big for the skins in goal.
Hildreth: We have been quite busy trying to make sure we are ready for the start of the tournament – we know that we are here to do a job and we try to prepare ourselves as best as we can. But we always have a good time together – always a laugh at team meals.
FHC: One word to describe how you feel about the match on Saturday?
Follow @FIH_Hockey on Twitter for live coverage throughout the 2012 Champions Challenge 1.
As photos are posted throughout the tournament you will notice an abnormally high number of Canadians sporting moustaches. Many team members are participating in “Movember.” After a successful run in 2011 – the Men’s National Team is looking to raise funds and awareness for men’s health again this year. Follow this link to view the Men’s National Team Movember page: http://ca.movember.com/team/604065.
FHC: How are the mustaches coming along?
Tupper: The ‘stache is coming along nicely – I think I’ve made major gains this year. The Bissett tandem are both rocking a mean handlebar, and Movember rookie Dave Carter is looking like a veteran, showing good growth and shape.