Punta Diary Round up
(originally in Penguin News 31/08/2018)
Firstly the whole trip would not have been possible without our sponsors and supporters – Byron, Energise, Tone Dog Designs, Sure, International Tours and Travel, Fortuna, Seaview Logistics, C+V Ellis, Beauchene, G+K Services, Sullivan Shipping, Shorty’s, Argos, Martech, the Seafish Chandlery and our association with the Stephen Jaffray Memorial Fund. The support from Alex Mitham at the FCO the Falklands people and from everyone passing through Punta during the tournament was outstanding.
The unique aspect of the hockey club is training and playing with the whole team from young to old, high performers to beginners. This builds a special camaraderie taking us to a higher level when it comes to competing. In the final weeks before the tournament the teams prepared with tailored Pilates session and circuits courtesy of Anna Cockwell and Beverly Bates, and attending a couple of skipfit sessions embarrassing ourselves initially with erratic skipping techniques.
Grant Budd and Ed Naus competed in the first outdoor natural ice tournament in Puerto Williams in the “rest of the world” team, along with players from Chile, Argentina and elsewhere. The tournament was plagued by worry as the lagoon ice started to melt from the edges. The ice held in the centre for the whole contest including three moves of the rink to fresh ice, right until the final group photo where the lagoon finally gave up, cracked, and caused the whole group to scatter. Fortunately no-one got an early bath. After this tournament Grant and Ed visited the school Bulnes in Punta Arenas. They spoke with the English class to talk about Canada the Falklands, and the Commonwealth, our similarities and differences, and the importance of understanding different cultures. The link with this school is through one of the organisers of the Mega Patagonian tournament and PE teacher Miguel Villarroel (also captain of the hockey team Aonikenk – a relatively new team named after the Indigenous people of the region).
The rest of the team arrived in Punta Arenas on the 11th for 4 days ice familiarisation and training before the first game on Wednesday. This was tricky for everyone, lots of slipping and tripping with Nick Francis performing a lovely swimming motion (video available on the Falklands Islands Hockey Facebook group), and watching brothers Tommy and Ethan Ross tackling each other was especially entertaining.
The performance of the Falkland Islands teams was outstanding taking home all four golds in the four categories. Probably the more fulfilling aspect of the tournament was the building of relationships with the other teams in the Magallanes Region and each other. The teams from Chile and Argentina really played hard; none of the games were easy for us.
Then some friendly games; the first night was mixed teams of all players and nationalities, developing friendships and smoothing over any small rivalries from the tournament. Less beautiful was the second night with a goalie vs. girl game. To describe it in words would be an injustice, there is a full video on the FITV Facebook page (not to single out any performance but the “Flying Watson” is a sight to behold). The final score 2-2 reflecting an unrelenting effort from the goalies against a very polished girls team.
We will all take away a lot of special memories; taxis filled to the brim with sweaty players, loud celebratory parties, desperate rides across the city to retrieve forgotten kit, a somewhat tuneful rendition of the national anthem, generous hosts, middle of the night burgers after flooding the ice, tears after winning, family rivalry in the go carting, and new friendships forged.
Throughout the tournament we were all humbled by the concept of the hockey family. Players, supporters, organisers, officials are there with a common purpose to play hockey and support each other, no matter what happens on the ice. No matter who wins the camaraderie with other teams was outstanding, and probably almost unique to ice hockey as a team sport. A special note of thanks to Thomas Stockting from FITV; he not only covered all of the games with his coverage reaching more people than ever before, but also became a big part of the hockey family.
In preparing for 2019 we will continue helping Puerto Williams(PW) and Punta Arenas(PA) arrange tournaments for next year. PW will be earlier in the winter to make the best of the natural ice. PA same time next year to tie in with the Falkland Islands School holidays.
Where do we want to be?
The Falklands hockey association has shown this year that we are not only competitive within the region (Magallanes) but without ice experience we were still able to win all four of the categories with an entirely locally resident team. With sustained effort and facilities (multi use ice rink in winter/ concrete in summer) the Falkland Islands could become competitive not only in the region, but within the larger area of South and Central America (lets be real – USA and Canada are out of our reach). In the future we want to compete with the likes of Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and the like. Not as an also-ran, or a novelty team, but as a serious competitor, albeit as an underdog. In movie terms think Cool Runnings meets Slapshot (a must watch for hockey fans).
Hockey is all about inclusivity, teamwork, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. Our 2019 inline season starts in March. There are also weekly get-your-skates-on sessions in the leisure centre from 3-4 pm every Saturday and Sunday to hone skating skills and have fun. If you or someone you know is interested in trying out inline or deck hockey please get in touch with the hockey association via the Facebook group or the contact form on this site.