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No welcoming party for T&T’s stickmen
T&T’s senior men’s hockey team returned home on Monday evening after placing tenth at the Fifth FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup following a heart-breaking 3-2 last minute defeat at the hands of Russia at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany, on Saturday.
The tournament saw participation of the 12 best teams in the world with Austria being crown champions after beating the host 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after regulation time ended 3-3.
Surprisingly, when the national contingent touched down at Piarco, there were no officials from the Hockey Federation, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs or the Sports Minister Darryl Smith to welcome the team home except members of the media.
When asked who met the team on its arrival, Raphael Govia, head coach of the T&T team said, “No one met us. The minister organised the VIP Lounge for us, the media met us there. We got through Customs very easy, thanks to Minister Smith.”
Govia said that while he and assistant coach Darren Cowie only had a small group of players to select from, but still we won the hearts of the fans and opposing teams during the tournament. He pointed out that last T&T Indoor tournament, which was held by Ventures Club, had about seven men’s teams which is less that 80 players. T&T has an average of 100 players, no more than that. “So based on that we’ve have done very, very well,” said Govia.
Govia said that the coaching staff of the South African team explained that they had over 500 players from 50 clubs to select their team from.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that T&T held its own against the best of European power houses. I’m really proud of the guys, they played their hearts out for T&T, we were the talk of Germany. We could have gone there and played boring hockey, but Darren and I decided not to do that from day one. We gave a good account of ourselves, we fought from our first game to the last one we played,” Govia said.
Team captain Solomon Beckles said the trip was really challenging from the team’s first stop in Holland. The pace of the teams in Europe was so much higher and greater and what was so fanatstic is that the players adapted very quickly in the three warm-up games against.
Responding to comment that T&T should not celebrate its 10th place finish, Eccles said, “But that’s tenth place in the world. We left here ranked 18th, at the bottom and getting result like this is great. We’re now 10th in the world.”
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