Puerto Rican women’s field hockey will be present at the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador 2023 for the first time since the Mayagüez 2010 edition and its mission is to make itself felt.
Furthermore, participation in this edition is only the third in the history of the Central American and Caribbean Games, and the team does not want to lose any more time for the sport and its development in Puerto Rico.
San Salvador 2023 is therefore a new beginning.
“The feeling is real to be able to take our game to this level, given the game is not known in Puerto Rico, where it is not known. But we are here to make it known”, said player Sheila Vazquez .
Hockey has been present on the island for decades, most notably at the Baldrich Arena in Hato Rey, as well as bringing the name of Puerto Rico to North America, the Caribbean and South America with its national teams playing either continental or regional.
Their association was established in 1976 to celebrate the San Juan ’79 Pan American Games. Baldrich has always been their training base, although the facility currently built for San Juan ’79 has been in poor condition for use since Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The national team will play games at the Santo Domingo sub-venue. There they will see action in Group A along with Barbados, Dominican Republic and Bermuda. They need to finish in one of the best three places to advance to the medal round, elaborated federation president Eluterio Lastra.
“It’s a comfortable group for us. The other group is ‘of death’,” Lastra described, with teams from Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Jamaica in the B.
There, the national team hopes to do a good job of inspiring future Puerto Rican players as the population of field hockey athletes has dwindled since Maria passed in 2017.
The limitations have caused the national team to look to the United States for players of Puerto Rican descent in order to balance the squad and improve the competitive level. Lastra said that in Puerto Rico, the player population is so limited that only three are enough to form teams.
“We have looked for players in the United States out of necessity; We do not have the number of players. I have to take advantage of that as well (level players in the United States). We are already at a level of play where all countries do it”, Lastra said.
In addition to Vazquez, the national team includes Alexis Morales, Arielle Rodriguez, Carina Ramirez, Cindy Escudero, Jalia Cooper, Josefina Freni, Julia Rivera, Katerina Cruz, Cristina Oyola, Lineshka Leon, Maria Pianetti, Molly Walter, Naida Bridgell. , Nilvia Vazquez and Zoe Norton.
Lastra said the national team also did most of its preparation in the United States, because most of the players live there and because the Baldrich facility is not in good condition. The only other option for the national team is Mariolga, trained at a facility in Caguas.
In addition to being rich for the athletes, costly for the Federation and the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, the move has been dynamic.
“We speak ‘Spanglish’ among ourselves. But it’s been great. They’re girls who are very proud to be Puerto Rican. Although they weren’t born on the island, their roots are firm and clear. It’s great Because we have Puerto Ricans in all parts of the world. The fact that they can feel part of this is great,” Vazquez said.