...Turf project still on hold, national teams feeling pinch in Chile.
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Veteran referee Ayanna McClean was presented with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) golden whistle after overseeing her 100th game as an international umpire on Sunday.
Former T&T senior women's hockey team coach Anthony "Bumper" Marcano says the time was right for him to step down from his position.
Last weekend, Marcano resigned his position of head coach of the team after their sixth-placed finish from seven teams at the just concluded Pan American Cup in Chile.
In Chile, the Avion Ashton-captained "Calypso Stickwomen" women suffered heavy defeats against the USA (16-0) and Canada (13-0) while blanking Peru 2-0 in their round-robin group series to qualify to the quarterfinals as third-placed finishers.
However, in the last-eight clash with Chile, T&T were crushed 11-0 before the Covid-19 virus hit the team camp, forcing T&T to default their fifth-placed playoff with Uruguay.
The decision by Marcano ends an almost decade-long reign that was briefly interrupted in 2013.
Marcano was first appointed to the senior women’s head coaching role back in 2010 for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India where they were beaten in all four matches against India (7-0), Scotland (6-1), Australia (11-0) and South Africa (12-0).
He then led the women’s team to a seventh-place finish at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico the following year but was then replaced by Glen "Fido" Francis for the 2013 Pan American Cup in Mendoza, Argentina where the “Calypso Stickwomen” again placed eighth.
A graduate of the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Programme (ICECP), Marcano returned to the coaching role in 2018 and guided the women to a third-place finish at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in 2018 in Barranquilla, Colombia, and also topped through the early staged of the FIH World League.
And last year, he led a youthful team to as second-placed in Peru at the Pan American Challenge which served as a qualifier to last month’s FIH World Cup qualifier, the Pan American Cup in Chile.
Speaking with Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday about his decision to step down from the coaching role, Marcano said his decision was twofold.
He explained, "The decision to step down and allow someone else to share their ideas is important and with me working alongside the T&T Olympic Committee and building the capacity of coaches where High Performance is a concern and even alongside the Ministry of Sports with the Community Development Programmes is going to take some time.
“If we build the capacity of the younger level and we need to do that inclusive of the coaches.
“I think that putting myself in a position where I can assist in that manner is going to take some time I wouldn’t be able to allot to both the hockey and that at the same time.
“People don’t recognize the amount of work coaches tend to go through preparing teams or athletes and I just won’t be able to handle that workload so I felt that we have coaches within the hockey that can substitute and build the capacity of the athletes and they have gone to courses outside, so now its time for them to give back like Darren Cowie, Dwain Quan Chan and Patricia Wright-Alexis.”
With their top-six finish in Chile cementing an automatic Pan American Cup spot next time around, Marcano believes he is leaving the program at a good time for new ideas to be implemented to take them forward.
He said, "With me leaving the women’s program at this point puts them in a good spot to have new ideas from someone new coming in and trying to see how they can maybe change the culture of the programme and get some results as well.
“I think the main thing for us as a technical staff going out now is that we would have left them in a position where they now have no qualifiers to go to for the Pan American Cup as well as a bronze medal from the CAC Games to build on.”
Going forward they will be at the CAC Games next year vying for the top two positions to get into the Pan Am Games.
“We just have to find a way to get more international hockey on our calendar. I see we may miss out on the Commonwealth Games this year but I think that over the period we should be in the mix for the next Commonwealth Games.
“But that qualification comes down again to planning, and playing at a high level and changing the culture with our performances, so there are a lot of things that we have to put in place.
"So once that happens that will be a great achievement for the sport of hockey.
Marcano also sees it as being very critical that the National Hockey Centre in Tacarigua which is being used as a Step-Down facility by the Ministry of Health in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic be made available if the players and sport is to move forward.
He stated, "We need the facility (National Hockey Centre) and we need that water-based facility to be up and running for these athletes to be able to perform at their best and once that happens we could invite people here to come and play.
"I tend to look way ahead and even if you look at 2028 Vegas for the Olympics you are looking at whether teams will be coming through here to play before they head up to the USA and even ourselves qualifying because we have to ask ourselves if that is a target we should set, and if we can set that target, then let us do so and plan towards it, and that again will fall on the shoulders of the new coaches and how they plan with the T&THB,” ended Marcano.