With the 2016 Masters World Cup officially underway, a group of athletes are realizing an opportunity not many athletes ever get to experience: representing Canada in an international competition.
To represent one’s country is rare, but Guy Manwaring got to do it for almost ten years..
A former member of the Canadian Men’s National Team, he played in two World Cups (1986 and 1990) and won a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games.
After about 100 international matches, his career ended in 1993. And after that, wearing the red-and-white isn’t something he thought he would ever do again.
“I always felt like my game really rose when I stepped out into a big tournament and I got to wear the colours,” he remembers of his time previously representing Canada.
And almost 25 years later in Australia, he gets a second shot at it as a part of Canada’s Over-50 Masters Hockey team at the Masters World Cup.
He is one of three players on the team who have previous National Team experience.
“It’s not the same as it was when I was in my twenties, I know it’s a lot more social,” he adds. “It’s just the feeling of getting to represent. I love that feeling.”
That feeling is one that Alison McGillivray hasn’t had. Not until this tournament.
Representing Canada playing field hockey was never on the radar as she grew up. In fact, she didn’t take up the sport until later in life.
As a recreational player, wearing the maple leaf for the first time is a big deal for her.
“It is an honour,” says McGillivray, who is also serving as co-manager of Canada’s Women’s Over-50 team at the tournament. “We are going to go out there and try to represent ourselves and our country well.”
McGillivray and all of her teammates will be representing Canada for the first time and they get to do it unexpectedly and later in life, when opportunities to play competitively, let alone internationally can be few and far between.
That notion of lifelong competitiveness and involvement in sport is a key reason Field Hockey Canada launched the Canadian Masters Hockey program.
“Our average age of the team is 56,” she says. “We even have a few of us – who are in our sixtieth year – who could play in the Over-60s.”
But despite their age or their previous experience, both McGillivray and Manwaring, and Canada’s Men’s and Women’s Masters teams have gone to Australia with the same goal: to play well and have fun. And to do so while representing their country.
Keep track of Canada’s teams at the 2016 Masters World Cup here.