The 2018 Purity Bakeries Barbados Road Hockey League (BRHL) got underway last weekend with its iconic annual player draft held at title sponsor Purity Bakeries’ headquarters in Lower Collymore Rock.
The draft invited managers from the 10 participating franchise teams to select active players to represent their franchises in the upcoming fast-paced court hockey tournament. The draft system is designed to give a fairer player distribution among teams in order to promote competitive balance.
This year, managers chose eight players over eight rounds of draft selections, using a snake selection draft system. Tournament organizer Adrian Nichols, thanked Purity Bakeries, represented by marketing manager Tia Best, for their continued support of the competition, now in its fourth year. Secretary of the Barbados Hockey Federation (BHF), Kofi Hinds, also expressed his thanks to Purity Bakeries for their continued support, as well as to Nichols for his continued hosting of the tournament, stressing its importance to the BHF in promoting much needed community visibility of the sport, as well as offering added variety to the local hockey calendar.
In a keenly debated decision, franchises this year lost all of their former franchise players and all teams were required to draft an entirely new roster of players, as was done in the first year of the tournament in 2015, unlike in 2016 and 2017 where teams were allowed to retain 5 franchise players, who were not returned to the draft pool making them unavailable to other teams. This had a significant impact on team rosters, some of which were completely changed and will no doubt impact on team cohesion and performance, especially for two-time champions Saltfish, who lost key players in national forward Che Warner and Dexter Clarke.
In similar player moves, 2018 BRHL number one draft pick Damien ‘Woody’ Downes, formerly of Zionites, will be representing Vigilantes this year, while 2017’s number one draft pick Marlon Daniel, will be on the roster for Strike Force.
2018 also saw four inception franchises leaving the tournament and four new franchise teams emerging. No longer in the tournament are Eagles, Royals, Zionites and Legends, replaced by new franchises Panthers, Lupes, Green Fit and Renegades. The newcomers will be up against return franchises Spirit, Saints, Saltfish, Vigilantes, Strike Force and Vikings.
Played in a 5-a-side format on local netball-sized courts, road hockey was adapted from both the outdoor and indoor formats of field hockey, to be a fast-paced version using small goals and no goalkeeper. Teams are limited to 13 players total and have been divided into two pools for the tournament.
The 2018 Purity Bakeries Barbados Road Hockey League touches off on Friday, April 6, at the Bagatelle, St. Thomas community court.