Akeem Rudder made history last weekend when he became the first Barbadian national to be awarded the honour of Most Valuable Player in the 2016 Argentine Regional Club Championships Men’s “A” Division Hockey Tournament for the Northeast Region.
The 22-year-old power forward for the Barbados senior men’s hockey team and local club Eastern Stars, left the island in March this year, along with five other national seniors, to train with and compete for local clubs in Argentina, as part of a development programme. The opportunity was orchestrated by Dominic Hill, coach of the senior team.
Rudder and national training peer Che Roach were assigned to Club Universitario de Rosario, known locally in Rosario, Argentina, as Uni (Rosario). The club competes in the top-level “A” category in Argentina’s Regional Club tournaments. Rudder and Roach commenced training with Uni Rosario in early April and quickly received good reports from their clubs, and were just as quickly utilized in competition, with the quick and skillful Rudder promoted to the first team.
Uni Rosario met Parana Rowing of Entre Rios in the final of the regional tournament at the Estadio Mundialista Luciana Aymar Stadium in Rosario on Sunday and comfortably saw them off 4 – 1, with goals from Uni Rosario’s Lucas Harte (13′), Facundo Harte (21′), Alfonso Todeschini (27′) and Iñaki Alvarez (50′). José Cabrera scored Parana Rowing’s only goal in the 25th minute
Although Rudder did not net in the final, he was instrumental in Uni Rosario’s domineering performance in the tournament, where they devastated Zone A of the tournament, finishing first with a +38 goal difference.
Rudder finished fourth with six goals in the competition’s tally for leading goal-scorers, where his teammates Harte and Alvarez, were jointly tied for the lead at eight goals each. Adrian Barnechea of Club Corrientes finished third with seven goals. The Northeast Regional Championship was contested by 12 regional teams from across that region of Argentina.
All of the other Barbados players in the Argentina Programme received good reports as well from their clubs in what can be said was a successful initiative that hopefully translates into positive growth for hockey in Barbados.
Other participants in the programme were Mario Moore and Paul Gill with Club Universitario de Cordoba and Laurando Davis and Che Warner with Club San Fernando de Buenos Aires. They are all set to return to Barbados this month.