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Funding crucial to Bermuda’s hopes

The Bermuda national women's hockey team are looking to attract more investment so they can continue their record of participating in every Central American and Caribbean Games.

The team faces the prospect of qualifying for next year's event — which take place in Barranquilla, Colombia — for the first time at some point this year, owing to the increase in hockey playing countries in the region.

However, their preparations for the qualifying tournament have been affected not only by a lack of funding but also by not knowing the dates, location and participating countries of the qualifying tournament.

“There is only one facility in Bermuda where modern field hockey can be played and the team face a bill of $85 for every hour the team trains on the pitch despite people's unfounded assumption that national teams train for free at the National Sports Centre,” Katie Masters, the Bermuda women's hockey team manager, said.

“Training twice a week for a year amounts to just under $8,000 and this limits the time the team can train, as they simply cannot afford pitch fees on top of funding an international tour.

“In addition, attending a much needed warm-up tournament is prohibitively expensive and then attending the tournament itself attracts costs amounting up to $80,000 for flights, accommodation and uniforms.”

The team are stepping up their fundraising efforts, but it has proven to be a challenge to fit that in with training and playing.

“I'm a mom and it is quite difficult,” LaKae Tavares, the Bermuda defender, said.

“My club team trains on Wednesday evenings and then we'll do fitness on Thursdays and then at least one game throughout the weekend for our club teams [as well as national team duty on Saturdays].”

Masters added that the Bermuda Hockey Federation are keen to hear from potential backers and volunteers.

“We've approached people for signage to sponsor us that will pay for our pitch fees, basically, because a lot of people that we approach, especially companies, they want that money to stay in Bermuda and benefit Bermudians, as opposed to giving us money for our travel expenses,” she said.

“We do have a sponsor, Midsea Consulting, who have sponsored our training shirts, which we will wear at our games on Saturdays and at our fundraising events. Burrows and Lightbourn have been huge supporters, so when we travel, they will have their sponsorship on them.”

Georgia Harris, an assistant manager with the team, is a senior at La Salle University in Philadelphia on a full hockey scholarship.

She is hopeful that the experiences of her and several members of the Bermuda team will encourage Bermudian girls that hockey can be a potential avenue for them to further their education. Tavares, for example, was a first-team all-star in the Ontario University Athletics conference in 2008 during a stellar college career with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in Canada.

“For younger girls coming up, it is about making them realise that hockey can bring them to university, that is not just always going to be an on-island thing, that you can represent a school and go away for it. That is something has never really been stressed enough.”

Masters added: “Georgia's on a full ride at La Salle University. Jessica Hollis [the Bermuda defender] went to the University of Richmond [in Virginia] on a full scholarship.

“It's so expensive for us to go to school, so imagine if you could play the sport you love, improve drastically and get your tuition paid for.

“Look at all the jobs here where the minimum you need is a bachelors or a masters and it's very difficult and expensive to go away.”

Photograph by Blaire Simmons Moving forward: Pier Simons looks for a pass during a practice game at the National Sports Centre

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Published February 16, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm)

Funding crucial to Bermuda’s hopes

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