Tough competition for Canadian field hockey teams in Gold Coast

The Commonwealth Games hockey competitions are traditionally very high level and this year is no exception: on the men’s side, six of the ten competing teams are in the top twelve in the world rankings (including top ranked Australia and power houses of the sport such as India, England, New Zealand and Pakistan) while the women’s side will feature Olympic Champions England and three other teams ranked in the top ten in the world.

In the men’s and women’s competitions, the ten teams are in two pools of five and only the top two after the round-robin advance to the semi-finals, making every pool game important as a single loss can make the difference between a medal hope and consolation game.

The Canadian men have never reached the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games but feel that they have the team to get close to the medal podium this year. With an average age of 27.5 years old and an average international Cap count of 114, Canada has no shortage of experience on the roster. They have eleven Olympians from Rio and ten returning from the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with Mark Pearson suiting up for his fourth Commonwealth Games.

Canada men are in Pool A with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Scotland. They will open the competition on Friday April 6 (11:30am local time) against New Zealand, a team they have a “healthy rivalry” with according to Canada’s head coach, Paul Bundy. Hockey fans still remember Canada’s thrilling victory over the New Zealand Black Sticks in the 2015 World League Semi-Final, clinching their spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“For us, the competition starts in that first minute of that first match. It’s absolutely fundamental that we start well,” said Bundy. “That first game against New Zealand is going to be a great game. A good start there can set us up in the best position moving forward in the competition.”

The Canadian women have a younger team (average age of 24.8 years) but the core of the team has been together for many years, with 11 who played in the 2015 Pan American Games and 9 returning from Glasgow, while captain Kate Wright is attending her third Commonwealth Games. Their new coach (South African Giles Bonnet) is confident that their experience and dedication will soon pay dividends and turn into a climb upwards in the world rankings.

Canada women are in Pool B with Australia, New Zealand (both ranked in the top three in the world), Scotland and Ghana. They will open the competition on Thursday, April 5 (4:30pm local time) against host powerhouse Australia, a match that has been sold out for months and promises to be played in a raucous atmosphere.

For more information on the field hockey competitions and the Canadian field hockey teams, please contact Yan Huckendubler, Media Attache, @ or (+61) 0423-318-536.

Photo by Yan Huckendubler/CGC