Every year at the end of May, members of the Field Hockey Canada Men’s National Team pack their shorts, sunglasses and sunscreen and head south to sunny Southern California to take part in one of the longest standing field hockey tournaments in the North America, the California Cup (CalCup).
The tournament, which has been running since 1972, features 150 teams in 14 divisions and hosts athletes from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argent, Holland, Spain, Taiwan, India and more.
And while many of the Canadian have been heading down for more than a decade, winning the tournament has been elusive.
That was until this year.
“I’ve been attending the tournament since I first starting playing for UBC in 2001,” says Men’s National Team goalkeeper David Carter, who was a part of a contingent which took part in this year’s tournament. “It is an extremely well organized event with beautiful weather, big crowds, and a competitive game which is why we’re continually drawn to the tournament.”
Before winning in the tournament final, the Khalsa got by the Los Angeles Tigers in the tournament semi-final, a team which featured current Canadian National Team member Sukhi Panesar, and alumni Rob Short, Ken Pereira and Ranjeev Deol.
“Seeing that this was the first time Hildreth, Pearson, Tupper and I had won this event, it was quite exciting and like a weight lifted off our shoulders,” adds Carter. “This was my 4th Cal Cup final.”
It was the Khalsa’s first championship at the tournament since 1992 and it had a particularly strong Canadian flavour.
“The five of us that went down together have all been playing together since we were quite young,” says Hildreth. “We have a good understanding of how to play together which is important in such a short tournament format.”
Held just an hour outside of Los Angeles at the Moorpark College, California, the tournament is extremely well attended and has a festival atmosphere, making a victory even more meaningful. The winning team also comes away with $5,000 to share.
“Personally, this was the first time I’ve ever won Cal Cup in about four or five tries,” says Hildreth. “Many people say that it is one of the most difficult trophies to win in all of North American sports. So it is a nice feeling to finally win this elusive trophy.”
For more information about the CalCup click here.