For many U16 athletes on Team Canada, their May test-series against USA was the first international hockey experience; The team had to do name introductions on the day before the first game. For both the U16 team and the U18 team, these international test series took athletes out of their competition comfort zones and offered a first taste of the international game.
The U18 National Women’s Team traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a four-game set against USA at the Villanova University Proving Grounds from May 10-16, 2022. The tour had been postponed from its original date in April, but with the managerial efforts of Kim Ewasechko and the FHC administrative team, the tour was a go. Although the team departed winless from PA, they developed and improved with each game.
The U18 National team takes on USA in Pennsylvania. Photos/Hannes Girgis [more galleries]
The U16 National Team played host to USA in British Columbia at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver and Tamanawis Park in Surrey. The crowd at both fields was amazing as the community rallied around our young national team athletes. For many of these athletes, this series will go down as their first national team experience and first international competition.
Susan Ahrens, CEO of Field Hockey Canada, was field-side for the U16 series and identified how much the team improved over the course of just four games. It bodes well for future national teams and tournaments.
“The series was an on- and off-field success, run to the highest professional standards by this fantastic group of people. It was so great to see the game-on-game improvement from these amazing athletes. I can’t wait to see what this group accomplishes next.”
U16 National Team takes on USA at home. Photos/Blair Shier [more galleries]
Jenn Beagan, head coach of the U21 Junior National Team, who was at the field site all week in Vancouver, said that these two tours will play a critical role in setting up the next generation for success. As a coach in the high performance environment, she identified these international friendlies as an excellent experience for the young athletes.
“It was so exciting to see both our U18 and U16 NextGen athletes on the field this month, it’s been more than two years since we have seen youth international competition and so for the majority of these athletes it is the first time they have had the opportunity to represent Canada,” Beagan said. “I am so proud of both of these teams, the staff that put countless hours into preparing these groups, and the athletes for the relentless hard work they showed on the field.”
Field Hockey Canada will be offering training opportunities for all age-groups including NextGen hubs and the Targeted Athlete Training Program. The athletes coming out of these test-series will be looking forward to the upcoming Junior Pan American and Junior World Cup cycle.
Ahrens speaks about this group and the importance of the NextGen pathway.
“The Talent pathway is a hugely important piece for Field Hockey Canada as we continue system transformation towards the change outlined in our 2020 Weise Report and towards our own Strategic Objectives. Gaining international experience at U16 and U18 level helps build our international athletes for the future.
Through annual hosting in collaboration with local and international partners, this pathway activation is also facilitating growth beyond our young athletes pool into coaches, managers, umpires, officials and event hosting volunteers. I’d like to thank all the staff, system partners, volunteers, parents and athletes for their involvement in the May internationals. I look forward to monitoring the growth of this part of our system.”