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