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Cuban Field Hockey Looks Forward to Being on the Podium in Toronto Panamerican Games

Cuban Field Hockey Looks Forward to Being on the Podium in Toronto Panamerican Games

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on February 17, 2015

During the Central American and Caribbean Games, held in Veracruz, both Cuban field hockey teams won the title and guaranteed their presence in 2015 Toronto Panamerican Games. Coaches and players of both teams know that they will be facing stronger rivals at the Canadian city, but they want to be on the podium. This has only happened twice in history: 1999 and 2003, when the male team conquered the bronze medal.

Alain Bardaji, coach of the female team, told Panamerican World that his team is going to fight for a medal in Toronto. “We have developed a special training plan to participate in the Panamerican Games, so our athletes will be in excellent shape, both physical and technical-tactical. The team is made up of sis players that attended the 2011 Guadalajara edition, while this is going to be the first time for the rest of them. They are all going to do their best. These athletes have great potential, but they are limited by the lack of international experience. Toronto is going to be very hard because the group includes three world-class teams”, Bardaji said.

Mileysis Argentel is the captain of the Cuban team and is very optimistic because in Toronto “they will have a lot to win and nothing to lose”. “The group is very strong, that’s true, because we have the Panamerican champion of the previous edition and 9th on the world ranking, United States, world champion Chile and Uruguay, which seems to be our most attainable rival. The training process is excellent and we’re putting special emphasis on the physical aspect, although we don’t participate in enough international competitions, which would increase our experience”, Argentel explained.

One medal in Toronto seems to be a reachable goal, Yailin Abrantes comments, especially after the medal in Veracruz. “That result marked the continuity of Cuban female field hockey, because if we hadn’t qualified we would’ve had to wait until the next cycle. In spite of the difficulties we’ve had with our field in Santiago de Las Vegas, where “Antonio Maceo” National Field Hockey School is based, we keep on training, always focused on our performance”, Abrantes underscored.

Damnay Solis is one of the most experienced players in terms of Panamerican events. “This is going to be my second time in the Panamerican Games. This group of athletes is very enthusiastic, we took a big step by becoming Central American champions and, although we know that the level is higher in the Panamerican Games, we are going to climb from the fifth position we reached in 2011 Guadalajara.

MALE FIELD HOCKEY TEAM WANTS A MEDAL TOO

The proper physical training is perhaps the main virtue of the young Cuban male field hockey team, which is also set to fight its way up to the podium in Toronto. The coaches are working on the physical strength of their boys to overcome the lack of competitive experience of a team where the average age is 24 and only seven athletes have competed in an edition of the Panamerican Games.

Nevertheless, Amado Amoros, assistant coach of the male team is optimistic. “Team work is very important. They technically play at a high level, with great dynamism and rhythm. They only need to know how to define the end of a game and that level can be obtained by playing with other teams. This is an ambitious team, capable of prevailing in America because of its talent that makes them stand at the same level of any international team. Our aim is improving the historic result we have achieved: a bronze medal”, Amoros said.

Roger Aguilera has spent fourteen years in the national team, so he is an authorized voice. “Toronto Panamerican Games are going to be my third event at that level. Now I go with a young team that lacks of international, but is eager to win. We’re training with one objective in mind: being in good shape for Toronto. Competing with European teams would be very positive, but if we cannot do it, we know what to do”, Aguilera, who is also the head of the team, pointed out.

Darian Valero is another veteran in the team. He has championed Cuba’s colors for over a decade and says that his experience makes him take more responsibilities in the team. “In terms of the hockey that is internationally played, this group has great potential and we´re only limited by the short international experience. Four years ago, in Guadalajara, we ranked fifth. We couldn’t go for the medals, but we want to surprise everybody in Toronto”.

The intense physical training received by the team is a key element to obtain positive results in the Panamerican Games, Adrian Molina explained. “We’re presently doing aerobics and we will later work on technique and tactics. The team is made up of young and experienced athletes. We were included in a high-level group, with teams that have attended more international matches than we have, but we are going to do our best”, he expressed.

Field hockey is going to be one of the most exciting sports in Toronto, because local teams have long-standing tradition in this discipline; although Argentina has undoubtedly prevailed in previous editions, with men winning eight crowns and women seven medals. 

Written by M. Gómez (with supported by  Y. Masó)

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