SURREY’S Poonam Sandhu is among the 18 athletes who have been named to the Canadian Women’s National Team which will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, to compete in Hockey World League 1, September 11-14.
World League is a multi-round, multi-nation tournament which in the end serves as a Rio 2016 Olympic qualifier.
“This upcoming World League 1 is the most important event for our program in 2014 due to the very nature at what is at stake,” says Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge.
In addition to the five continental qualifiers for the Olympic Games (one of which will be the winner of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games), two teams will also qualify through the World League competition, bringing the total to seven teams.
Olympic qualification happens after the third round of World League, but only the winner of World League 1 advances to the second round.
Canada will be competing against Mexico, Guatemala and Peru in the first round of World League in Mexico in September.
“The team is well prepared, given that we have just come of the Commonwealth Games and the afterglow of a very intense preparation period,” adds Rutledge. “We have spent the past two weeks honing technical aspects of our game and I am looking forward to spending the first week of our tour to Mexico in a training camp like environment, refining our off-field environment as well as our on-field play.”
The women have been extremely busy over the past six months. They went on a tour in the United Kingdom to face one of the world’s best sides, England, and then travelled to Wales to take on the Welsh.
Prior to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the women had another test series in Ireland.
The roster is young, but it now has more experience than it has ever had with this core of players.
“The team has been working hard at putting consistent, back-to-back performances on the field every game regardless of our opponents’ status,” says Rutledge. “This approach will be no different and the players’ attention to detail and focus will be sorely tested.”
“The team is starting to come together well and it is promising to see that our players are increasing their understanding of what it is to be really successful on the international stage.”
The first test for Canada will be on September 11 against Guatemala. They will then take on Mexico on September 13, and Peru on September 14.