The Cayman Islands ball hockey team wrapped up the 2019 Ball Hockey World Championships by defeating Great Britain in the B-Pool gold medal game to become world champions last weekend.
Cayman previously made it to the finals in 2015 when they took on Haiti and won the silver medal.
It was a long nine days of competition for the 20 players who travelled across the Atlantic to compete in Kosice, Slovakia, at the 13th Annual Ball Hockey World Championships. The 14-22 June tournament was hosted by the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation.
Cayman took to the arena nine times over the nine days and finished with a record of seven wins and two losses, with 33 goals for and 21 against.
The tournament kicked off with a game against the defending gold medallists, Hong Kong, which Cayman took 3-0 in a definitive win and strong debut. Game 2 against Lebanon was much closer than expected, ending in a shoot-out and a 3-2 win. Bermuda also took Cayman to a shoot-out in Game 3, which Cayman also won 5-4.
Game 4 for Cayman came after a much-needed day off, energising the team to a 6-1 win over defending bronze medallists, Armenia, in the final game of the B-pool round robin.
With an undefeated record, Cayman advanced to the A-pool for the first time in the organisation’s history, matching up against Switzerland for Game 5. Switzerland took a commanding win over Cayman, 8-0.
This forced Cayman back down to the B-pool and a new round robin which included themselves alongside Hong Kong, Haiti and Great Britain. Game 6 and a second game of the day for Cayman brought a rematch against Hong Kong, where Cayman once again showed its superiority with a strong 6-1 victory.
Haiti was next on match schedule, and in Game 7, Cayman once again showed strength with another 6-1 win. This game clinched a spot in the gold medal game for Cayman, with Game 8 against Great Britain and a 3-1 loss, becoming null and void.
On Saturday, 22 June, Cayman took the arena one last time in a rematch against Great Britain for gold and the world championship. In a hard-fought game that took every player’s last ounce of energy, Cayman came out on top, with a final score of 3-1 and a gold medal around each player’s neck.
“We were very well prepared coming into the tournament,” said the team’s head coach, Scott Sparks. “We spent a lot of time before the tournament working on all the little things which put us in a great position when we got [to Kosice]. Our goal from the start of training was to bring gold back home to Cayman and we have done just that – we couldn’t be prouder of what the team accomplished as a whole.”
The team’s assistant coach, Tim Courtis, said, “What a great group we had this year. We had a team that came together and really gelled impressively well. This tournament is a tough battle, both mentally and physically and it’s all about the team and how you function on the day. We are so happy to have the gold medal and this is for Cayman, a great effort by all.”
The 13th ISBHF World Ball Hockey Championships brought 15 different countries together, including the host nation of Slovakia, and a total of 20 teams which included five women’s national teams and 15 men’s national teams.
The Championships are held every two years in different host nations, with 2021 set for Canada, where Cayman will defend their gold medal for the first time.