Field Hockey Canada > Pearson off to Hockey India League semifinal, looking forward to returning to Canada

When veteran Canadian midfielder Mark Pearson decided to join the Delhi Waveriders in the 2016 Hockey India League, there was no question why he was going.

The hockey always came first.

“I play hockey to win games and have success with teammates,” he said after his team won its final game of the season 6-0 against the Kalinga Lancers. “It’s been a good ride so far. It’s been great getting to know all the players.”

With the win, Delhi secured a spot in the league playoffs, which are played in a semifinal format in Ranchi this weekend.

Pearson and the Waveriders will face off against the Jaypee Punjab Warriors on February 20th in the one-game semifinal, with the winner moving on to the league final against either the Lancers or the Ranchi Rays, who meet in the second semi.

“We’re here to win and I’d be disappointed coming back with anything less than first place,” Pearson added. “It would be a pretty special achievement and there would be a lot of people in Delhi who would be pretty excited if we win.”

While the hockey has been front and center, Pearson has had a chance to experience more than just the turf. With the league being a showcase of hockey in India, teams played in a variety of towns and experienced the culture in those areas.

“That’s definitely the coolest part,” he explained. “When I’ve been in India in the past, I’ve kind of been stuck in the hotel or village for Commonwealth Games or World Cup.”

“We’ve been able to travel around a bit and see some different sites, so certainly a highlight of being here.”

And while the experience has been a memorable one, Pearson has kept one eye on home the entire time, as his teammates with the Canadian men’s field hockey team have begun their preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, first with a training tour to Cape Town, South Africa and most recently beginning a training block in Vancouver this week.

“You kind of want to be together with the guys,” he said. “Maybe testing isn’t the biggest priority, but certainly I want to be around for as much of the Olympic prep as possible. I followed closely and was texting all the guys. I’m certainly looking forward to getting home and starting on the Road to Rio.”

And when he does, he might be doing so as an Indian league champion. Either way, the experience is one that Pearson won’t soon forget.

(Feature photo courtesy of Hockey India League)

All smiles after overtaking the elephant uber en route to training today! ??? #DelhiProblems

A video posted by Mark Pearson (@markajp19) on

Thumbs up for the new billboards at Shivaji! Can’t wait for our first home game tomorrow night. ???

A photo posted by Mark Pearson (@markajp19) on

Sharp looking squad! @delhiwaveriders #HIL #RokSakoTohRokLo ??

A photo posted by Mark Pearson (@markajp19) on