Field Hockey Canada > Team Canada’s Road to London 2012

Team Canada’s Road to London 2012

February 14, 2012 | Field Hockey Canada | fieldhockey.ca

The Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Field Hockey Teams arrived in New Delhi on Saturday.  They are in India for one reason: to earn a ticket to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. 

The Men’s National Team represented Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and they are hungry for another Olympic berth.  Team Canada Women are eager to end a 20-year Olympic drought – their last Olympic appearance was in Barcelona at the 1992 Summer Games.  Both teams have been focused on qualifying for London since the 2010 Commonwealth Games.  After countless hours of practice, numerous international matches, and a strong performance at the 2011 Pan American Games – Team Canada is ready to compete.

The men and women will each play in a week-long round-robin tournament beginning on Saturday, February 18th.  The teams finishing first and second in each tournament will compete in a final match, with the winner earning an Olympic berth.  It will be a tough road, but tickets to London are well within reach of the Men’s and Women’s National Teams. 

Nine men’s teams (Great Britain, Pakistan, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain) and nine women’s teams (Great Britain, China, Korea, Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Argentina) have already qualified for London through continental competitions.  In total, six Olympic spots are still up for grabs; three on the men’s side and three on the women’s.  The winners of each of the six upcoming Olympic Qualifier Tournaments will earn a berth to the London 2012 Games.  In total, twelve men’s and twelve women’s teams will compete in London at the Riverbank Arena from July 29 to August 11, 2012.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE MEN

The Men’s National Team is confident coming into the tournament.  After a tough loss in the final match of the 2011 Pan American Games, the athletes have spent the past four months perfecting their game.  

Anchored by the leadership of Ken Pereira and Scott Tupper, Canada’s roster is a solid blend of experience and young energy. You will recognize Scott Sandison, who has returned to Team Canada.  Sandison’s experience and composure will boost the defensive core.  Likewise, rookie Rogier Trip will bring fresh energy to Canada’s defense.  Trip currently lives in the Netherlands where he plays for the European Hockey League’s team HGC, along with teammates Pereira and Rob Short.

“It feels really good to be a part of Team Canada,” says Trip.  “I’m looking forward to [the Olympic Qualifier].  I’m excited to play matches in a big stadium in front of a big crowd.”

And a big crowd it will be.  India is home to some of the most enthusiastic hockey fans in the world.  Delhi is an especially exciting venue for several athletes and staff on the men’s side, as many have strong Indian roots.  Jagdish Gill is originally from Kolkata, West Bengal, India.  Gabbar Singh of Batala, Punjab actually played for India’s Junior National Team before moving to Toronto at age 19.  Staff members and brothers Kinder and Minder Gill are originally from Manuke, Punjab.  Team Captain Ken Pereira also has Indian roots – his parents were born and raised in India before immigrating to Canada.

Defender and Vice Team Captain Scott Tupper is on the brink of earning his 150th International Cap for Canada (currently at 149).  Tupper has been a valuable part of the National Team since 2005.  At the recent Pan American Games, the 25 year-old scored nine goals, finishing top goal-scorer of the competition. 

Click here to follow the Men’s Road to London


WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE WOMEN

The Canadian Women enter their Qualifying Tournament ranked fourth behind South Africa, India and Italy – but they are ready for an upset.  After giving reigning World Champions Argentina a run for their money at the 2011 Pan American Games, the Canadian women are confident they can outplay and defeat teams that seemingly outrank them.  Since Guadalajara, Team Canada has focused on improving their weaknesses and perfecting their strengths under the leadership of Head Coach Louis Mendonca.  Mendonca knows what it takes to qualify for the Olympic Games – he led the Men’s National Team to Beijing in 2008. 

The National Team competing in New Delhi is nearly the same team we saw in Guadalajara – with a few new additions including Maddie Secco of Victoria, BC and Kate Thompson of Vancouver.  Team Captain and veteran Katie Baker is confident in her team, describing them as “competitive and tough.”  “We are ready to compete together,” she said.  

Veteran Stephanie Jameson will soon surpass the Women’s Canadian Cap Record, currently held by Laurelee Kopeck with 163 international appearances.  Stephanie has played 162 matches for Canada since her international debut in 2002.  Approaching this milestone is no surprise to the Jameson family – the three kids were born with field hockey in their blood.  Sue Jameson, Steph’s mom, also played field hockey on the Women’s National Team.  Steph’s brother, David, currently plays for the Men’s National Team and younger sister, Katie, competes for the UBC Thunderbirds.  

Click here to follow the Women’s Road to London