This year the Falkland Islands teams competed in two international ice hockey tournaments. Firstly two of our player/coaches took part in The Patagonian Brotherhood Cup held in Puerto Williams. They competed as part of the rest of the world team with players from other countries eventually taking 3rd place.
The next tournament was the MEGA Patagonian tournament held in Punta Arenas. This was organised by the teams Aonikenk (Miguel Villarroel and Domingo Orlando) and the Falklands Hockey Association, with extra thanks especially to Oscar Sanhueza – Chief of Marketing and Communications at the Zona Austral, without his assistance and input the tournament could not have happened including making improvements to the rink to allow hockey to be played.
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.
Puerto Williams (PATAGONIAN BROTHERHOOD TOURNAMENT)
Grant Budd and Ed Naus competed in the first outdoor natural ice tournament in Puerto Williams. This was an all adults tournament with mixed sex teams. Grant and Ed joined the “rest of the world” team, along with players from Chile, Argentina and elsewhere. Ultimately the rest of the world team finished 3rd, with Ñires (Ushuaia) in 2nd,and CAU (Ushuaia) taking 1st. The tournament was plagued by worry as the lagoon ice started to melt from the edges with the warming temperatures. The ice held firm in the centre for the whole contest including three moves of the rink to fresh ice. Next year this contest is planned earlier in the winter to take advantage of better ice condition. It is hoped that the tournament will be bigger with more teams and supporters. The Falkland Islands Hockey Association are actively assisting Puerto Williams organisers to develop this tournament, as well as advising on the options for indoor ice rinks which the Falklands are also looking at.
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 with Chile, 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).
Punta Arenas (MEGA PATAGONIAN TOURNEMENT)
The rest of the Falklands team arrived in Punta Arenas on the 11th for 4 days ice familiarisation and training before the first game on Wednesday. There were four categories of teams in this tournament, youth (9-13), Junior(14-17), Ladies and Mens teams with the Falklands having teams in all categories. Other teams arrived throughout the week and all were keeping a good eye on each other as the first games neared. Games starting on Wednesday 15th of August and the finals played on Sunday 19th.
The teams were Mens: Nordicos (Punta Arenas), Aonikenk (Punta Arenas), Kotaix (Punta Arenas), Los Ñires (Ushuaia), Serena Fuego (La Serena), Stanley Penguins (Falkland Islands)
Ladies: Stanley Valkyries (Falkland Islands), Serena Fuego (Las Serena), Punta Arenas
Junior: Stanley Penguins (Falkland Islands), Punta Arenas, Serena Fuego (La Serena), Aonikenk (Punta Arenas)
Youth: Stanley Rockhoppers (Falkland Islands), Punta Arenas
The performance of the Falkland Islands teams was outstanding taking home all four golds in the four categories, with the Men’s final being against Los Ñires a closely fought battle with penalties flying finally finishing 5-4 with Stanley Penguins winning.
The third place play off was between local Punta Arenas team Nordicos, against Serena Fuego from La Serena, with Serena Fuego being the winners.
Los Ñires took home several awards including best player Ramiro Beltrami (voted by teams) Best Keeper Rodrigo Soto Foglia “Yoyo”(Voted by teams) and of course the silver medals and trophy.
The Falkland Islanders also took several player awards including: Best Female (Regan Newman) Best Youth Keeper (Liam McRae) and Best Junior Keeper (Dean Ellis).
Other awards were best youth player (Demarys Escobar).
Probably the more fulfilling aspect of the tournament (although we are all very happy to win and play), 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, but even right after the heat of a hard game straight afterwards everyone was shaking hands and making friends.
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.
The Falklands also took 4 peewee players (5-7) to get their first taste of the ice and played special friendly with each other (with guidance from some of the older players and parents) to really give them a taste for the game.
Looking to next year the Falkland Islands Hockey Association will again be helping the Punta Arenas teams and organisers to develop the tournament, and it is planned to be approximately the same time next year to coincide with school holidays in the Falklands.
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, what happens on the ice stays 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. Also thanks to Mario from Red TT and CDR for streaming the games online. This will hopefully be repeated next year.
Hockey is all about inclusivity, teamwork, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. It’s a beautiful game and we as an association are going to be doing everything we can to help build the sport in the region, and I know that the other cities and teams feel the same way. Hockey is here to stay and it’s going to get bigger.
If you are interested in Hockey all of the teams have Facebook pages and websites.
By Sam Cockwell - Stanley