JOA pushes for Winter Olympics

JOA pushes for Winter Olympics

Ice hockey players support local growth

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) continues its drive to raise the bar in Olympic winter sports and to establish Jamaica as a competitive 'podium' brand in replicating the success that the country enjoys in the Summer Games.

Recently, the co-captains of Jamaica's victorious team to the 2019 Amerigol LATAM Tournament in Florida, United States, Jaden Lindo and Teegan Moore, who are both based in Canada, paid a courtesy call on the JOA at its official headquarters, Olympic Manor. This visit was initiated by Don Anderson of the Jamaica Hockey Federation.

JOA President Christopher Samuda, in congratulating the captains on a historic achievement by team Jamaica, said: “Muhammed has come to the mountains and now the ice has come to Jamaica to pay homage to our talent and prowess in a sport which I have no doubt will give rise to icons in the future,” he said.

The captains expressed their willingness to help with training sessions and development of the sport locally. This, as they chase their dream of becoming the first Jamaica team to qualify for ice hockey at the Winter Olympics, a mission the island's parent body for sport, the Jamaica Olympic Association, wholeheartedly supports.

They also listed the acquisition of a home for the sport, a rink, as key, a position shared by the JOA and articulated aggressively by the apex body since early 2018, which the governing body for the sport locally, the Jamaica Ice Hockey Federation, openly endorsed.

Captain Moore, in like-minded fashion, said: “In order for us to compete at the next level we'd like to start training locals in the game of ice hockey and building a facility here in Jamaica. Once we have the facility we'll be able to compete on the world stage,” said Moore.

“The more we do here in Jamaica I think it can help us grow our programme.” Moore, whose father hails from Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, said most of his family resides in Richmond Hill, St James, and Clarendon, which has strengthened his love for country and makes him eager to give back.

“I've been coming to Jamaica since I was a youth. I come every few years to visit family and friends. I'll be back next summer to start the grass roots programme and get youth involved in the sport and give back to Jamaica what we've learnt from the game, which has given us so much,” Moore stated.

He started playing at age seven in Thompson, Manitoba, and played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Major Junior League; semi-pro in the East Coast Hockey League with Colorado Eagles; and now senior hockey for Lacombe Generals in Alberta, Canada.

Captain Lindo, who was born in Brampton, Ontario, and started playing at age five, represented Brampton Battalion and Toronto Marlboros in Minor hockey, then got drafted to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) by Owen Sound Attack.

He played with them for four years before being drafted for the National Hockey League (NHL) by Pittsburgh Penguins. A third year student at Queen's University pursuing health studies, both of Lindo's parents were born in Jamaica and he expressed a sense of pride in aiding the sport's growth here, as well as winning the Amerigol LATAM Tournament.

In claiming victory, Jamaica beat defending champions Colombia 5-0, previous runners- up Argentina 8-4, Brazil 7-0, Mexico 6-0, and for a second time, they beat Colombia when they again met in the final 2-0 in a penalty shoot-out, after regulation and extra time play ended in a 2-2 tie.

“It was a bit of astonishment and there was a lot of excitement in the air. We had a lot of support; Florida has a lot of Jamaican heritage, so we had a very good supportive turn-out and I think the world is ready to see Jamaica compete in ice hockey,” Lindo expressed.

“We just want to continue to increase awareness about ice hockey in Jamaica, and obviously it's necessary for Jamaica to have a rink, and we're working towards that so we can advance our programme further. I think we're on the right track and I'm looking forward to what the future holds,” added Lindo.

In speaking about the future, Samuda said the JOA will assist wherever possible to enable the team's qualification to the Winter Olympics, and he also stated that crucial to success is a viable development plan and continual evaluation to ensure positive outcomes.

“We'll be monitoring activities, asking for periodic reports and organising visits to them in camp to get first-hand knowledge in enabling proper assessments,” the JOA boss said.

Noted pollster Don Anderson, who served as JOA vice-president for 35 years and is currently a member of the Jamaica Ice Hockey Federation, said they are in the process of growing the sport locally. He said a grassroots programme, to begin in January, and a rink, are main cogs for advancement.

“The minister has already made an announcement about the ice rink and that's part of the dual thrust right now,” said Anderson.

“The grass roots programme is where we're going to involve locals. One is to start with roller hockey. The only difference is you're playing on ice. All the experts, including the coach, have convinced us that it's a very easy passage from roller hockey to ice hockey,” Anderson maintained.


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