Field Hockey Canada > Canadian men aiming higher as World Cup qualification kicks off with World League

In just over a month, Canada’s men’s field hockey team will play in its first competition of the year.

And despite the lengthy layoff since their last games – which came at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil last August – World League Round 2 (March 25 to April 2 in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago) also comes with major importance.

The top two finishers of the tournament move on to World League Round 3 this summer, where teams will compete for spots at the 2018 World Cup in India.

And Canada’s Men’s National Team could not be more ready to hit the field, after a long Canadian winter.

“We’ve had a little bit of trouble with the weather cooperating, which has been a bit of a factor,” says goaltender Antoni Kindler. “But I think we’re confident, we’ve got enough time here to get prepared.”

“We would have loved to have played a few more games, but that’s the reality of the situation. We’re doing our best to take that first step towards World League 3.”

What they’re also trying to do is take a step forward from what the team accomplished in the previous quadrennial.

In 2016, the Canadian men returned to the Olympic Games after missing out on the 2012 Games in London, and by the end of the year had increased their world ranking to 11th, which is where it stands now.

But despite that, the team wants more.

“We understand in our group we’re more than capable of qualifying,” says forward Matthew Sarmento. “So the goal is excelling at the World Cup and challenging for a better spot than we did at Rio.”

Canada finished 11th out of 12 teams in Rio, which is in line with it’s world ranking, however, they expected better, and look at 2017 and beyond as a way to prove that they deserve it.

“There’s definitely a bit of added expectation,” Kindler adds. “We know what we’re capable of. We’ve had some key retirements from some role players on our team, but at the same time it’s kind of exciting, because it means its an opportunity for new guys to take on those roles.”

With his experience at the Olympics and the departure of some key veterans – with the likes of Benjamin Martin, David Jameson, Jagidsh Gill, Philip Wright, and Stephen Bissett retiring – Sarmento looks at himself as one of the guys that can take on a bigger role.

“We feel that we under-performed at Rio and we think that being put up against the best in the world, we can do better than 11th place,” he says. “So we definitely want to improve on that.”

Canada’s World League Round 2 begins on March 25, 2017 at 1:15pm (local time in Tacarigua) against the United States.

For Canada’s full schedule, results, and recaps, click here.