Feature Photos: Blair Shier
Like many events, the Junior Pan American Cup was postponed a year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The original U21 event was scheduled for 2020 but will now take place in August 2021. The Men’s Junior National Team is hosting a selection camp this week in Vancouver, BC, from June 7–12, with 26 players named are named to the camp roster. Only 18 will be selected to travel to Chile in two months’ time.
The selection camp will be led by Head Coach Inderpal Sehmbi and Assistant Coach Geoff Matthews, who will look to build the best roster of U-22 athletes, to give Canada the best chance to qualify for the Junior World Cup.
The age restrictions shifted to recognize the postponement of the tournament. To be clear, anyone born in 1999 or later will be eligible to compete in the Junior Pan American Cup but only those born in 2000 or later are eligible to compete in the Junior World Cup. The coaches will lead a selection camp in October to determine the JWC roster as necessary, but for now, the focus remains solely on the Junior Pan Ams.
Steph Jameson was announced as Field Hockey Canada’s Men’s NextGen Director in April. It has been ‘all-systems go’ since she started. Given the global circumstances over the last year, for Jameson, the chance to see the coaches and players in action at camp this week feels like a major step in the right direction.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for the athletes to get back to competitive hockey. It’s important for all of them to be in the same spot at the same time,” she said. “It’s also crucial for the coaches to see all the athletes competing against each other and track the progress made over the last year.”
For her, as a NextGen administrator, the goal is to put the best roster forward but also understand that the program’s mission is to develop complete athletes, those ready to make the jump to the senior national team.
“The overarching goal of the NextGen program is to consistently move players through the system so when they arrive at the Men’s National Team, they are fully prepared to not only play at that level but to compete and to thrive.”
26 players were invited to camp. 18 will be selected for the Junior Pan American Cup roster. Photos/Blair Shier
Jameson said Sehmbi and Matthews create a professional training environment that sets the athletes up for success. The program is already paying dividends as several athletes are moving in and out of the senior training cohort as well.
“There’s evidence of that fluidity and pipeline working right now. There are four NextGen athletes that are currently training full-time with the Men’s National Team and are potentially up for Olympic selection as well.”
Jameson is no stranger to international competition. She played in the 2000 Junior Pan Am Cup and the 2001 Junior World Cup. She went onto a 10-year, 168-cap senior international career with the Women’s National Team. She said the introduction to proper training and the exposure to different styles at these junior international tournaments can be vital in inspiring a long career.
“Playing in the junior program was a really formative experience in my career. It taught me how to train and how to be responsible,” she said. “Getting to play at the Junior Pan Am Championship was an eye-opening experience. Any chance our athletes get to play other top nations, it’s an amazing opportunity. The junior program builds habits and opens-eyes.”
The camp will take place at Rutledge Field, Tamanawis Field and UBC Wright Field this week. The 18-player roster will be announced next week via Field Hockey Canada Social Media and coverage of the Junior Pan American Cup will start on August 16, 2021. Stay tuned for more!
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* Training with the Men’s National Team
** Training with the Indoor National Team