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Pan Am committee unveils world-class field hockey plans

The Canadian Press

11/2/2012 4:06:15 PM

TORONTO -- Ken Pereira has played a record 348 games for Canada's men's field hockey team -- but only four of those games were in Toronto.

The two-time Olympian from Unionville, Ont., said the Pan Am Field Hockey Centre at the University of Toronto is "great news" for the sport in the city and across the country, adding he hadn't played on artificial turf in Toronto in a decade.

"There's no better feeling than playing at home, nothing compares to playing in front of family and friends," Pereira said at Friday's news conference to announce the facility.

Pereira, 39, has five Pan Am Games medals, and called the 1999 Games in Winnipeg by far his fondest Pan Am memory -- he scored the winning goal in the final to clinch Canada's berth in the Sydney Olympics.

Two international-class field hockey pitches will replace the university's grass playing fields.

There are currently six field hockey turfs in Canada capable of hosting international competition, and five of them are in B.C. About 30 per cent of Canada's 15,000 players live in Ontario.

"Today is a wonderful day for hockey in Canada -- field hockey, that is," joked Ian Troop, CEO of TO2015. "This is all about work starting, not work stoppage."

Troop said the new fields will also leave a lasting legacy for the Varsity Blues women's team, which has dominated the game at the Canadian university level for decades.