Oh! Eh up lad – he’s go­ing to Bar­ba­dos

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE - By Rod Gil­mour

WEST YORK­SHIRE and Ba­jan burrs mixed for the last time in Wake­field on a lively Satur­day night out last month.

Justin Catlin had played his fi­nal North Premier Di­vi­sion game for the men’s team be­fore join­ing his Bar­ba­dos team-mates ahead of their World League tilt – and a po­ten­tial route to­wards next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games.

The 25-year-old is­lan­der’s path to York­shire had started last June when a Wake­field gram­mar school un­der­took a tour to Bar­ba­dos.

Catlin had been in­vited to play in a game, not re­al­is­ing the goal­keeper played for one of the north’s lead­ing club sides.

Num­bers were swapped and the first seeds to a sea­son and a “well planned out” con­tract in Eng­land were sown.

“They are a first-class or­gan­i­sa­tion,” Catlin tells

The Hockey Pa­per. “It was dif­fi­cult at first with the transition and play­ing high level hockey but it was a great pro­gramme.”

Catlin, an at­tack­ing mid­fielder, rat­tled in goals as the club fin­ished in the top half of the North Premier Di­vi­sion, played with the sec­ond team, and coached the ju­nior and ladies teams.

He says that there are se­nior play­ers on the is­land who could match the hockey he ex­pe­ri­enced for skill, al­though the speed of the game is vastly dif­fer­ent.

“The struc­ture and un­der­stand­ing of the game is very high,” he ad­mits. “It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me in terms of confi-

dence as an in­ter­na­tional player and play­ing in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. To open up my mind and broaden my hori­zons in hockey.” first-teamDanny Berry, cap­tain, the men’s said: "Justin has had a fan­tas­tic im­pact on Wake­field HC this sea­son. Not only as a great ad­di­tion to our men’s 1s, but also as a coach and role model for our ju­nior and ladies’ sec­tions.” Of course, there was the added prob­lem of get­ting to grips with the York­shire dialect. “It was dif­fi­cult to pick it up at first,” smiles Catlin. “Even when they said my name it was a case of find­ing out what was go­ing on!” sur­name,At least he as had talk a turns fa­mil­iar to the East Grin­stead mid­fielder Nick Catlin. “I re­alised that when I came over too. And maybe he could be in the same fam­ily too, as my grand­mother al­ways said that all Catlins are fam­ily. It would be a plea­sure to meet him at some point and trace if we do have fam­ily roots as I do have white Cau­casian fam­ily.”

Catlin says his last game was emo­tional. “It was a case of tak­ing it all in. I was feel­ing good as how far the team has come in the last year. The team weren’t play­ing their best, but in our last eight we only lost once.”

Mov­ing to the in­ter­na­tional scene, Bar­ba­dos, along with USA, qual­i­fied for World League 2 cour­tesy of a fine dis­play in Round 1 in Sala­manca, Mex­ico last year. How­ever, things didn’t quite turn out as Bar­ba­dos would have liked last week in Round 2 where they fin­ished in the bot­tom two.

But the Tri­dents, cur­rently the world num­ber 49 side, are show­ing signs of pro­gres­sion, with Catlin be­ing one of a num­ber of se­nior in­ter­na­tion­als to travel abroad in re­cent months.

This in­cluded six Bar­ba­dos play­ers trav­el­ling to Ar­gentina to play matches with lo­cal sides in the re­gional club cham­pi­onships. Akeem Rud­der, a for­ward, was even awarded most valu­able player dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

Back in the Car­ib­bean, the Bar­ba­dos Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced last year that the na­tional side would have an ar­ti­fi­cial pitch for the first time in five years.

But it’s to be seen at global tour­na­ments which Catlin, na­tional striker since 2012, rel­ishes most.

“We want to con­tinue to lift the stan­dards of Bar­ba­dos,” he says. “There are end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to try and qual­ify [for the Gold Coast]. It would be great to qual­ify, get some fans in the north and have the girls with the pom-poms cheer­ing us.”

PATH TO THE GOLD COAST

The Car­ib­bean is a sep­a­rate “re­gion” for the Com­mon­wealth Games. There is a rule that all re­gions should be rep­re­sented, so the top Car­ib­bean team rep­re­sents the re­gion, what­ever their world rank­ing.

Trinidad & Tobago are cur­rently 33rd in the men’s rank­ings, 16 places ahead of Bar­ba­dos – so the chances of the Tri­dents catch­ing up seem slim.

But there is the pos­si­bil­ity that a team refuse to go to the Com­mon­wealths for fi­nan­cial rea­sons. That could be the sit­u­a­tion in 2018 with Trinidad & Tobago be­ing able to send just its women’s team. At Glas­gow 2014, both Trinidad teams fin­ished last.

Name­sake: GB star Nick Catlin

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