Field hockey men head to Buenos Aires for a ticket to Rio
Feature photo: Canada captain Scott Tupper (left) in battles for the ball at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (Photo: Yan Huckendubler).
The 2014-15 FIH Hockey World League is entering a pivotal point this week and the Canadian men’s team is in the thick of it with an Olympic berth on the line.
Heading into World League semifinals (World League Three) the national men’s field hockey team is in a pool with Germany (world no. 3), Argentina (6), Spain (11) and Austria (22). Canada is the 14th ranked side on the planet.
The tournament starts on June 3 in Buenos Aires with Canada going up against Spain, and must finish in the top four in the group to advance to the quarterfinals. They should be able to achieve that feat, but that only takes them part way to the prize, as head coach Anthony Farry recently made it clear.
“The goal is to qualify for the Olympics,” Farry recently said while the team was in Toronto training on the Pan Am pitches. “We certainly want to do well at World League Three, we’re aware of how hard the competition is going to be.”
A top three overall finish in the tournament nets a ticket to Rio 2016.
“We build up for two years, training ever day to play in these big games,” midfielder Taylor Curran said. “I think there’s a lot of excitement (and) anticipation.”
Other top teams in Buenos Aires include world number two Netherlands, New Zealand (7) and South Korea (8). Canada could face one of these top 10 teams in the quarterfinals should it get through the group stage.
The remaining international powers such as Australia, Great Britain, Belgium, India and Pakistan, are taking part in the other World League semifinal tournament in Antwerp later in June. Top four teams from each of the semifinals will go on to play in the World League Final in India later this year.
Should Canada not advance to the Olympics through World League, it will have a chance by winning the Pan Am hockey tournament on home turf in Toronto. The Canadian men are a regional power, having won Pan Am gold four times in the last eight Games. It also has six Pan Am silver medals and has never finished worse than fourth, which was at Winnipeg 1967.