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BARBADOS - banks hockey 2005
Date August 18, 2005
At a Press conference yesterday, Festival Committee chairman Mark Owen said there were 50 teams this year (up from 42), and overseas teams have started to return to the tournament.
The festival gets under way on Sunday at Banks Breweries and concludes next Saturday.
"We are proud to say we are one of the permanent fixtures on the sports tourism calendar for the past 20 years. We have never missed a year since 1986.
"It has generated a reputation for being the most cosmopolitan hockey event anywhere in the world. We have teams from all over the world and, this year, we have seen a slight return to the number of overseas teams we have had in previous years."
Last year there were none from Britain, but Riverside and Little Britain will be competing this time, along with Flottbek of Germany and NY Islanders. The committee is still awaiting the final commitment from the Atlanta team.
Trinidad and Tobago will be represented by the Defence Force and Police Force and the Jamaica Defence Force will also be competing.
The other teams are all local, accounting for about 450 players in the men's, women's, mixed and veterans categories.
Matches will be held at the Astroturf from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and at the BET, Banks and First Caribbean (formerly Barclays) grounds from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sedrick Haynes, brand manager of main sponsor Banks, said it was one of their main sponsorship projects and they looked forward to the festival every year.
He said his company was pleased to see a resurgence in hockey and hoped the participants had a wonderful time.
The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) reaffirmed their commitment to the festival, which is one of the main sports tourism ventures along with the Run Barbados Series and the Sir Garfield Sobers Schools' Under-19 Cricket Tournament.
"We have been proud to be part of the renewed efforts to generate or rekindle that interest - especially in the United Kingdom market - to get visitors back to Barbados and back to the Banks Hockey Festival.
"We are very encouraged by what is happening this year and the projections for 2006 are very strong," said sports tourism manager Steve Edwards.
He added that the BTA would put its financial and other resources to help make the festival a successful one.
Owen said the festival was not only about hockey and a significant effort was made to boost the social aspect, which had fallen off.
Various activities will be held at some of the top night clubs and a team karaoke has been introduced.
Plans are already on stream for next year's event. Six overseas teams have confirmed their participation and there were enquiries from teams from England, Holland, South Africa, the Czech Republic and the United States.
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