Junior Men looking to qualify for fourth consecutive Junior World Cup
The Junior Men’s National Team centralized for three weeks leading up to next week’s Junior Pan American Championship. This is a group has been playing test matches and training together for almost two years and they are ready to take on the Pan Am region, aiming to book their fourth straight trip to the Junior World Cup.
This is a relatively young group, with no returners from the 2021 Junior Pan Ams and only two returners from the previous Junior World Cup campaign. With that in mind, this three-week centralization period prior to the tournament was crucial to the team’s development. Head coach Geoff Matthews was an assistant last time around and has seen this group develop over the past two years for this moment.
“We don’t have a lot of guys with big tournament experience. But we’ve been really fortunate to get lots of games during the centralization period,” he said. “It’s a really dynamic group. We’re young but with that comes excitement and flair. I expect us to play our best hockey in Barbados next week.”
the JMNT was centralized in Vancouver for three weeks prior to departing for Barbados. Photos/Blair Shier.
The most experienced players include Junior World Cup returners Julius D’Souza and Jyoth Sidhu. Alex Bird, played at the 2021 Junior World Cup and has men’s national team caps under his belt but will unfortunately be on the injured reserve for this tour. D’Souza, who grew up in Mississauga, Ontario playing for the Toronto Titans and the Brampton Field Hockey Club spoke about his experience at the Junior World Cup and how it can support his preparedness for this week’s tournament in Barbados.
“Those matches at the Junior World Cup are going to contribute and help me feel prepared for the Pan Ams,” D’Souza said. “I think I now have that expectation to play at that higher level – that international level.”
This team has athletes from BC, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, making it a true blend of styles and backgrounds. According to Matthews, this team has spent a lot of time together, on and off the field, and as a result have developed those connections and chemistry. He said that once the tournament starts, he expects them to bring their best and execute.
“This group is really close. In the last year, we’ve ran two national camps and two regional camps, plus the centralization. Lots of these guys have spent 2-3 camps and training periods together,” he said. “in the last 18 months, we’ve ironed out our style of play. They guys know what’s expected and once we get down there, it’s just about executing.”
The Junior Pan American Championships is a qualifying event for the 2023 Junior World Cup. The top three finishing countries will qualify for the Junior World Cup. With that in mind, there’s no mincing words from coach Matthews; saying that the definition of success out of this event is qualification.
Maan Sidhu is from Abbotsford and plays his club hockey for the Burnaby Lakers in Burnaby, BC. The Junior Pan American Championships will be his first major international competition. He echoes coach’s sentiment, saying this group has grown together for over a year and that blending the nation-wide styles won’t be an issue come day one in Barbados.
“This team is very close to each other. We have a lot of guys that have spent a lot of time with each other. Communication on the field is key and the more we play with each other the more we feel comfortable on the field together,” Sidhu said. “This team is going to give it our all every time we’re on the field. We expect to play well every game.”
Team Canada opens their 2023 Junior Pan American Championships campaign on April 10, against the host country Barbados. Follow along here.
Field Hockey Canada is excited to announce the three Canadian officials that will be representing Canada at the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships. Click here to support their journey.
Meghan McLennan (umpire)
Pambavasan Manikandan (umpire)
Laurie Hogan (technical official)