Sri Lanka national Masters hockey team will start their first ever World Cup bid against host Spain on July 27 in the Masters Hockey World Cup 2018 scheduled to be held in Barcelona from July 27-August 5.
The team with 18-member former national hockey players represented the country between 1978-2008 will also play against England (July 28), France (July 29), and Italy (July 30) in their round robin matches.
Australia, Germany, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, USA, and Oman will be the other countries featured in this year’s World Cup organised by International Masters Hockey Association.
This will be the first time a Sri Lankan Masters hockey team selected to play in a World Cup and the team is led by 56-year old veteran CH & FC and former Royalist Ashok Peries, who represented the national team from 1987-1996.
Ananda Silva, a D.S. Senanayake old boy and former Sri Lankan national sticker, who represented the country as a defender for more than a decade in 1980s is appointed as the vice-captain.
The team comprises of some of the most prolific hockey players this country has produced like former BRC player S.H.M. Kuthubdeen, a defender who has played more than 50 international games for the country including Asia Cup 1982 and led the national team in 1986 against a test series with Russia in Colombo and Sri Lanka’s 1990 vice-captain and Assistant Superintend of Prisons Fazeer Laheer (former CH&FC captain), who will also be the manager of the team.
Sri Lanka’s forward line will be strengthened by Nadith Kudagama (Sri Lanka 1995-1999, Royal College Hockey Club), a fabulous Sri Lankan dribbler who was selected for the Asian Combined Hockey team in 1997, Saman Vandalan (Sri Lanka 1995-2002, Wennappuwa Sports Club) who also was in the 1997 Asian combined team, Indrawansha Herath (Park SC, Matale), the 1996 national team captain, Mahir Mohideen (Sri Lanka 1983, Former BRC), Lloyd Fredrick (Sri Lanka 1992, Old Benedicts HC), Godwin Solomons (Sri Lanka – 1996-99, CH & FC), and Duncan Devendra (Sri Lanka 1994-1996, CH&FC).
The defending half positions will be comprised of Anura Bandara (Sri Lanka 2002-2010, Sri Lanka captain, Asia Cup 2008 and Air Force Hockey Club), Manuja Gunawardena (Sri Lanka 1997-99, Royal College Hockey Club), Mario Joseph (Sri Lanka -1996-2001, Old Peterite Hockey Club), Linus Xavier (Sri Lanka 1996-1998, Old Benedicts HC), and Marlon Jacobs (Sri Lanka 1992, Old Benedicts HC).
Both D.C. Perera (Sri Lanka captain 2002 & CH & FC) and Shihar Aneez (Sri Lanka 1996, Royal College Hockey Club) will be guarding the net.
The teamwill be playing in Europe for the first time.
The team is chosen by the selectors of Sri Lanka Masters National Hockey Association (SLMNHA), a body approved by the Sports Ministry,after continuous weekly training sessions for nearly past one year and coached by Hafiz Preena, who represented Sri Lanka from 1973-83.