Going to the World Cup is a big deal, but for the Canadian Men’s Indoor National Team, it’s becoming old hat.
Along with the host Germans, the Canadians are one of only two teams that will be competing in the 2015 Indoor World Cup and have been to all four Indoor World Cups since the tournament first was played in 2003 (also in Leipzig).
Having finished sixth (in 2003), seventh (in 2007), and tenth (in 2011), the results have varied, but what has been a constant has been a complement of players who have been there to experience it all along the way.
Goalkeeper Shankar Premakanthan (Ottawa, ON) will be playing in his fourth Indoor World Cup.
Others, including Canada’s indoor cap leader, Jeewanjot Singh Bath are going to their third.
This is all to say that many on the Canadian team know what to expect on the world’s biggest stage.
“It takes us a long way,” says the 32 year-old Brampton, Ontario native. “In tough situations like a World Cup, which is a short tournament, if you have experienced guys they can bring the guys together and gel at the right time and just perform.”
What experienced guys also do is act as a guiding light for the younger players on the team.
This year, Canada has four players – Gutej Dhaliwal (Ottawa, ON), Lyle Fernandes (Mississauga, ON), Pardeep Kooonar (Ottawa, ON), and Sean Baretto (Markam, ON) – who will be paying in their first Indoor World Cup.
“It’s a really good thing,” adds Bath. “It just shows that Canada has the athletes to perform.”
“Guys my age might not be there in the next few years. guys like Devohn (Noronha-Texeira), Gurtej, and Lyle, are going to get some experience and they’re going to be the leaders in the next go around.”
Along the way, while the team has been preparing for the World Cup, those guys have already been soaking in all the experience that is around them.
It helps with the nerves, but it doesn’t get rid of them.
“Of course I’m nervous and there’s a lot of butterflies that come with it,” says Fernandes. “But I’m excited because I think the group of guys we have right now is a very experienced team and I have the support I need to do it and play well.”
Fernandes and the other first-timers know that they’ll have a role to play in their first World Cup, but that that role will expand in years to come if they approach the first the right way.
“It’s all about relying on your teammates, you can’t do it yourself,” he adds. “It’s important that us young guys on the team can learn from the veterans now and keep Canadian hockey strong for the years to come.”
But before they deal with the future has in store, the Canadians, – who are ranked seventh heading into the tournament – are hoping for their best finish ever at a World Cup.
“We’ve done all we can,” says Louis Mendonca, who is headed to his third Indoor World Cup as a head coach. “The guys have worked really really hard in terms of training at home, both physiologically and technically.”
After encouraging results in test matches versus Argentina, Moscow’s Dynamo Ektrostaal, and a second place finish at the 2015 Mason Cup in Denmark, the balance of young and old, experienced and motivated, puts Canada in a good position to achieve their goal.
“We’ve worked to the plan, now it’s going to come to down psychologically in terms of how we’re going to perform on the world stage.”
The Canadian Men’s Indoor National Team begins the 2015 Indoor World Cup on February 4th with two games. To view the complete schedule and results,click here. Also stay tuned to Field Hockey Canada’s website, Facebook and Twitter feeds for game recaps, photos, and more.