The Withrow Park Knights of Toronto walked away with the Caribbean Valentine’s Cup after beating the BVI Ball Hockey Associations’ two teams — the BVI Barracudas — during a two day tournament at the Tortola Sports Club.
Social Coordinator and defensive player Roger Dey of the Withrow Park Knights has been organising trips to warm destination for the past seven years.
The team tries travel to a tropical destination twice a year to play ball hockey. The idea first started in 2004 with a trip to Bermuda and has since caught on. Fourteen players made the trip to Tortola last weekend, but in the past as much as 24 players have travelled. Back in Canada, the Withrow Park Knights play in a league with 96 players.
Mr. Dey said the level of competition on Tortola is “surprisingly good.” The last time the two teams met was in St. Thomas during a tournament.
“The USVI team needed a little help, but the BVI guys were surprisingly good,” Mr. Dey said. “After about four years the BVI guys have really improved.”
He said ball hockey is becoming a very popular sport in the Caribbean and thinks the BVIBHA is on the right track.
Walter Reich of the BVIBHA was preparing to play in a game Saturday evening. He said having a team like the Withrow Park Knights competing in the Tortola tournament exposes new players to a higher level of competition and will ultimately make them a better player.
Mr. Reich was impressed with how well the Barracudas did against the visiting team. Although they didn’t win a game, he said performances by players like Scott Hart were worth noting.
The BVIBHA has about 25 players that consistently play. The team also travels overseas to compete in tournaments.
“I am hopeful that there is talk about a multi-purpose court that would allow us to build a proper-sized rink,” Mr. Reich said. “This would allow us to do in-line skating.”
On Fridays the association has started to teach hockey to junior players and Cedar International School has a ball hockey session.
“Hopefully this will allow us to have more players and leagues in the future,” Mr. Reich said.
It wasn’t all ball hockey for the visiting team. Off the court, they got to relax at the beach and do some sightseeing.
“We went to couple of the local clubs and tasted the local beer,” Mr. Dey joked. “When we left Toronto it was minus 26 degrees Celcius — the coldest day of the year. It is a real pleasure to be here and not to have to worry about putting on boots and parkas.”
Despite all the relaxing, he still thinks his teams did well during the tournament.
“Besides all the beer that we have been consuming, I think our performances have been pretty good,” Mr. Dey said. “This won’t be the last time we are here.”