(Photo: FIH)

Leandro Negre paid tribute to Cuban hockey's aspirations after a recent visit to the Caribbean island. Leandro joined Alberto (Coco) Budeisky, President of Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF), where he met with many of the people responsible for driving Cuban hockey forwards. The purpose of the trip was two-fold: to discuss the Cuban Federation's ambitions and plans for hockey in the future; and to inspect two new pitches – one sand-filled and the other water-based – that have received financial support from FIH.

The president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) visited the island's capital Havana, where he met with José Ramón Fernández (President of Cuban Olympic Committee) and Julio Cristian Jiménez Molina (President of INDER). The meeting provided the opportunity for interesting and meaningful discussions about hockey development and the future of the sport in Cuba. 

Leandro and Coco then travelled to Ciego de Ávila province together with Alex Hernández Gómez (President of Cuban Federation) and Andrés  Zirulnikoff (Forbex expert), where they were welcomed by governmental and sports dignitaries of the province, and witnessed the final arrangements for the new artificial sand pitch being built in the venue close to “Sala Multifuncional  Deportiva”. 

As part of the visit, the group also visited the National School of Hockey in “Santiago de las Vegas”, which is part of “Rancho Boyero”. Here, a meeting was held between the dignitaries of International Hockey and Pan American Federation and some of the male and female players of the Cuban national teams, as well as the coaching and technical staff responsible for the athletes’ development.  

One of the aims of the meeting was to discuss Cuba's return to the international hockey scenario. It is hoped that the new artificial pitch will play host to top international events in the future. 

Speaking after his visit, Leandro said: "This trip to Cuba underlines the work we are doing at FIH to promote hockey to a wider global audience. The Cuban Federation is determined to put Cuban hockey back on the international stage and I am delighted to support this ambition."