On June 21, 2018, head coach Donald Paterson and assistant manager Patrick Oswald led the Canadian Men’s 60+ National Team into their first ever World Cup Match. It was a game against South Africa, a team that finished in 5th place at the World Cup two years ago in Newcastle, Australia. Despite losing their first match 3-0, history was made as Canada marked its first ever appearance in the 60+ tournament.
From June 20-30, the world saw The Grand Masters World Cup unfold in Barcelona, Spain, where the Canadian Men’s National Team (60+ division) participated in their first World Cup and finished in 17th place. Despite not advancing past the pool group stage, the team brings back with them a newfound love for the sport and opens up a new opportunity for Canadian Grand Masters teams to come.
Goalkeeper Ken Beckett was crucial in holding the South Africans to just one goal in the first half of the historic first match. However, the opposing team was able to find their way to the net in the 51st and 68th minute, leaving Canada to drop their opening match 3-0. At the end of the match, Canada and South Africa proceeded to exchange pins and pendants, which Oswald described as “wonderful sportsmanship.”
“[That] is exactly what Grand Masters World Cup is all about,” Oswald said. “We are making a lot of new friends and are [feeling] wonderfully welcome as part of the Grand Masters family.”
The following day, Canada dropped 7-0 against Australia who had finished the previous World Cup in second place, before dropping 4-0 against Scotland on Sunday. Canada concluded the pool group stage with a 5-0 loss against the USA, but remained in high spirits with two placement games to look forward to.
“I thought we held Australia early but gave up some easy goals near the end,” said Beckett. “Australia was what I expected. I thought we would be more competitive versus South Africa and the USA. We prepared more extensively this time and…our training drills were very helpful to me in facing shots and build-up by our opposition.”
It was a face-off between Canada and France for 17th place. Canada didn’t disappoint, winning the first match 4-1 after captain Gordon Plottel scored the country’s first World Cup goal in the 10th minute from a penalty corner. Four minutes later, Mark Northcote converted another penalty corner opportunity from close up, giving Canada the lead at halftime.
Andy Haigh scored in the 38th minute from an open field goal and once more in the 52nd minute before the French pushed back with a late goal.
“This victory gave the team a needed lift after the loss to the USA,” Oswald said. “The USA team is…very good but the Canadians felt they did not play their best and the loss was disheartening. To score goals and win the game against the French was just what the doctor ordered!”
Canada surged to a 2-0 win over France in game two of the mini-series which left Canada as the 17th place team out of 18 nations, after goals from Plottel and Haigh in the second half.
“It was great to conclude the tournament with two winning games,” Plottel said after the match. “Doing so against tough but gracious opponents of our own calibre made it a fitting conclusion for our nine-month goal of showing that Canada belongs and can compete in the WGM.”
Paterson, who described the first game against France as his key moment in the tournament, was pleased by the results and Canada’s performance in the World Cup considering the country was a new entrant.
“Our participation in the World Cup was entirely positive [with] little ups and downs as expected,” he said. “No team overwhelmed us completely so that when we were beaten, we still learned a lot about tactics and individual skills.”
As for what the future holds, the team hopes that their participation in the tournament is the beginning of a long journey for Canadian field hockey and proof that international careers can be pursued with hard work and spirit, regardless of age.
The next WGM World Cup will be held in 2020, location yet to be determined. For full competition results, click here. For more tournament information and Grand Masters news, visit the WGMA Hockey website.