by Ali Lee, with files from Field Hockey Canada
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – Three former and one current University of Victoria Vikes men’s field hockey players were recently named a part of the Canadian national team program. On Dec. 8 Field Hockey Canada announced the 2015 Men’s National team (MNT) and Senior Development Squad (SDS) rosters, with athletes locked in to training for competitions leading up to 2016 Olympic qualification.
Among that list are former Vikes James Kirkpatrick, Keegan Pereira and Matthew Sarmento, as well as fourth-year midfielder and current Vike Brenden Bissett. Bissett was named to the the SDS list of 16 players, while Kirkpatrick, Pereira and Sarmento are young blood on the MNT. Forward Kirkpatrick has been in France playing with the Racing Club de France, based in Paris. The 23-year-old Victoria native is a part of the club’s debut season in the prestigious European Hockey League (EHL), a professional field hockey league in Europe that is in its seventh season.
Pereira is also overseas competing with Wellington Tennis and Hockey Club based in Brussels, Belgium. Both Pereira and Sarmento transfered to UBC to be closer to the home base of the MNT in Vancouver.
The men are entering a year of competition during which qualification for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil is up for grabs through two qualification pathways. The first being the World League tournament, the second being the Pan American Games, which Canada hosts in Toronto in the summer of 2015. In preparation for these two tournaments, the MNT will take part in many test tournaments throughout the year, for which – as will be done for World League and the Pan Am Games – specific touring rosters will be named.
Kirkpatrick, Sarmento and Bissett are currently in New Zealand for a tour, where they are currently 1-1-1 in their match ups against a New Zealand “First XI” team and a development squad. Bissett was one of the goal scorers in Canada’s win, 3-2, over New Zealand. The team will now head to Nelson and Christchurch for test matches against the Blacksticks.