Wednesday, May 29, 2024

US Field Hockey rebuff Erin Matson bid to play at Paris Olympics

US Field Hockey said Erin Matson, regarded as one of the country’s best female players before taking on the North Carolina university coaching job aged 22, did not meet qualification requirements after she bid to try out for the Paris Olympic-bound squad.

Matson was denied a recent trial in Charlotte following eligibility rules on the US’ selection process, which were established last June. She has since called for change in selection rules so the “best  “strongest possible” squad is chosen for the world stage.

Matson, now 24, had returned to the US squad for last month’s Indoor Pan American Cup.

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  1. The Erin Matson 2024 Olympic trial saga………..
    Over the last few days emotions, pro and con, ran high over the issue whether Erin Matson should be given a try out. USA FH had denied such try out due to, among other, its selection criteria. This is one last and final look at the facts surrounding this issue.
    Background:
    As of Jan. 31, 2023 Matson accepted the head coaching job at UNC. Questioned about her future with the US WNT, she stated: “I felt it would not be fair to UNC if I gave 75% of my effort here and trained for 25% and then it would not be fair to my play for the US.
    The reporter wrote: Either USA FH or UNC would have taken a hit if she pursued playing and coaching and decided her heart was at UNC and Matson was quoted:
    “I will stick with that decision for the rest of my life”
    Matson therefore knew and was very much aware that accepting the UNC coaching job would conflict with her ability to train for and play in key international events with the US national team including the Qualifier for 2024 Paris.
    She also must have been keenly aware that after the such one off trial she would not be able to commit to the centralized training program and other international competitions in future as her request for trial in her own words was not to be an Olympian. She never quantified why she wanted to have a trial in the first place……..
    Now to USA FH:
    Matson was invited to try out in early 2023 but turned down the opportunity coinciding with her starting her job at UNC. Subsequently, she did not play in any international competitions notably:
    the Nov. 2023 Pan American Games where the US WNT secured a spot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament
    the 2022/23 FIH Pro League where the US WNT finished last and was relegated. Would the relegation have occurred with Matson on the team?
    the 2023/24 FIH Pro League where the US WNT has not won a game so far and the critical 2nd half of matches has to be still played
    the Jan. 2024 Olympic Qualifier where the US WNT, against all odds, secured a spot in the 2024 Olympics
    Throughout the last 16 months, according to USA FH, the USA WNT athletes committed to each other and to the Team. This came at no small sacrifice as members of the team gave up jobs, delayed family obligations, take time away from college and their college teams, and uprooted and moved to base themselves in Charlotte. They train daily in a vigorous high performance environment.
    Summary:
    As stated above, Matson made a choice to focus on her new job at UNC and she successfully did so when winning her first NCAA Championship as a coach. While doing so, she no longer was exposed over the past 16 months tom the vigorous high performance demands of international hockey in terms of training and competitive play.
    After the US WNT qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Jan, 2024, Matson reversed her life decision and requested a trial, only a trial as she proclaimed:
    “my request was not to be an Olympian, my request was to allow me to try out.”
    The question here is what she want to try out for? Certainly, by her own admission not for the Olympics and certainly not to become a member of the centralized team in Charlotte to train and prepare for upcoming and future international competitions such as the 2nd half of the FIH Pro League in June.
    She then added and said: “at the end of the day, I want to help my sport and my country.”
    Another question immediately pops up: where was Matson in Jan. 2024 when the team went to India for weeks to qualify for the Olympics. She did not help her country then and why now……..
    It would be great to find out what Matson as successful coach of a great college program would have done if she was in charge of the US Womens program?
    Given all the facts, it is hard to understand why Matson wanted to attend a trial knowing very well that she cannot meet the requirements of the USWNT program as her job would not allow her to be in this centralized training program. Her statements and the reality of her job make the situation absurd,
    Looking at the 2024 Olympics and the competition the USWNT ranked currently #13 has 9 higher ranked nation ahead, all wanting to win and be on the podium. Despite the great showing at the Olympic Qualifier, the team with or without Matson does not have a chance to reach the podium realistically……
    All in all, the whole situation is: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING!
    Erin Matson responded to the denial of her trying out: “Although it leaves my heart heavy, I have moved forward”
    It is the re4commendation for us all to move forward as well and wish the US WNT a great and successful Olympics………

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