Following a productive 2006 season, Miguel Beato Cruz is entering with an optimistic approach his second full season as head coach of the Dominican Women’s National Team. After coaching in the men’s ranks for about 25 years in Dominican Republic and Honduras, Cruz took charge of the women’s side in September 2005. Since then, he has led the team to the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia, and to a third place finish at the Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico. He also enjoyed his first taste of the World Grand Prix.
It will be a very busy year for the squad both in terms of competition and preparation and Cruz looks enthusiastic with the challenge. “Starting in May, we are going to establish two training bases, first in Cuba and then in the high altitude of Costa Rica,” said Cruz. “That will be followed by a pre-competitive period in Brazil or Europe.”
The first competition will be the Pan American Cup in Mexico in June 14-25 followed by the Pan American Games in Brazil in July 14-23. “Our goal at the Cup will be to finish among the top three teams from NORCECA and qualify for the 2008 World Grand Prix, and then to defend the gold medal at the Games in Rio,” added Cruz.
After the Pan Am Games, the Dominicans will fly to Japan for an adaptation to the environment before the start of the World Grand Prix. “The 2-1 result during the opening leg in Bydgoszcz last year was a good one and we hope to have an even better start this time,” said Cruz. “Above all things, we need to accomplish that goal if we are going to advance to the Ningbo finals.”
The Dominican Republic will face the competition of Cuba, Thailand and Japan during the first weekend of the preliminary round in Tokyo on August 3-5. The Dominican squad will compete in two more events in the latter part of the year: The NORCECA Continental Tournament in Canada from September 15-23 and the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament from December 14-22 at a site still to be determined. “Looking ahead to 2008, I obviously hope to qualify the team for the Olympic Games in Beijing,” said Cruz. “It would be the second time for the squad and the first for me, and that would be quite an honor.”
To achieve all his goals, Cruz is counting heavily on some experienced and younger players. “Annerys Vargas was our best player at the World Grand Prix last year and, in 2007 with one more year of experience, I predict she will be one of the top in the world,” continued Cruz. “Veterans Cosiris Rodriguez and Milagros Cabral are solid performers and I expect a lot from Cindy Rondon and Bethania de la Cruz, two emerging young players.”