Field Hockey Canada > Canadian men kick off road to Rio at World League Final on Saturday

When the Canadian men’s field hockey team takes to the field in Raipur, India to face Great Britain in its first game of the Hockey World League Final on Saturday (12:30am PT/3:30am PT,, it will be doing so with the long game in mind.

At the World League Final, Canada faces seven of the top eight teams in the world. And while that will make for an intense and competitive tournament, it also serves another – more important – purpose: preparation for the Olympic Games.

“It’s kind of a two-pronged approach,” says Men’s National Team captain Scott Tupper. “We’re excited to play in a tournament again and at the same time guys are individually looking forward to putting their best foot forward and getting off to a good start for the next eight months.”

The months leading up to August next year are all about tuning up for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

That preparation begins at the World League Final, where Canada enters as the lowest ranked team – but one that has made waves in international hockey over the last eighteen months.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us to do well at this event,” says Canada’s head coach Anthony Farry. “Every game is going to be tough. There’s no let up for us.”

But there is no other way Farry and the Men’s National Team brass would have it. In fact, a quick look ahead at how Canada’s competition stacks up in 2016 and you see many of the same teams in the opposition column – most of which are going to the Rio Olympics.

It’s the best way for the Canadians to get ready for Rio.

“We know we’re going to play a lot sides that – at this stage – are better than us,” adds Farry. “We’ve got to find our ways. We’ve got to be quite strategic about how we’re going to beat those teams. The only way we can do that is by playing them and gathering information”

And while Farry says the win-loss ratio leading up to the Olympics is what he’ll be paying attention to the least – he’d rather focus on finding the right players and strategy to be successful in Rio –  the players know their on-field performance carries a lot of weight not only in their potential selection to the Olympic team, but in that team being as prepared as possible in Rio.

“We’re not naïve,” says Tupper. “We know we have ground to make up on some of the best teams in the world.”

“It goes without saying, we want to finish as high as we possibly can here (at World League) and really push some of these teams that are ranked quite a bit higher in the rankings.”

After facing Great Britain, Canada faces Belgium on Sunday at 4:30am PT/7:30am ET before taking on World No. 1 Australia on December 1 at 4:30am PT/7:30am ET.

Full schedule, results, and game recaps can be seen here.