Ice hockey gets JOA boost for 2020 Winter Olympics goal


Ice hockey gets JOA boost for 2020 Winter Olympics goal

Sunday, December 08, 2019

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The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) aims to break ice on another frontier in assisting the country's men's ice hockey team's chase for a historic place at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2022.

In September of this year, Jamaica's team created quite a shock when they won the Amerigol LATAM tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States. The tournament was played among Latin American countries that do not have an ice rink, and saw Jamaica winning all its matches.

Members of the team were recently in Jamaica and paid a courtesy call on the JOA at its Olympic Manor headquarters in Kingston.

At that meeting, JOA President Christopher Samuda disclosed: “We're going to be discussing how we can best help them on the road to the Winter Olympics.

“We're always encouraging the non-traditional sports, and particularly winter sports, and we'll be assisting them in their journey because we're about creating history in sport for our athletes and country,” said Samuda, under whose leadership several non-traditional disciplines have reaped unprecedented success in international sporting competition, primarily the Commonwealth, Pan American and Central American and Caribbean Games.

The island's parent body for sport has indicated an ambitious plan labelled '10 in 20', which seeks the never-yet achieved qualification of at least 10 sporting disciplines for Jamaicans for an Olympic Games. Their goal is the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Samuda indicated that given their far-reaching plans for Jamaica's athletes, they would be extending as much assistance to other non-traditional sports.

“We've asked associations involving team sports to submit to us a development programme geared towards qualification to the Olympic Games and beyond which should include from now an Olympic squad because there has to be from the get-go among members of the squad some synergy, game networking, an understanding and advantageous application of skill sets and how to create the run of play if the team is to perform at its optimum,” he stated.

Jamaica's has previously participated at the Winter Olympics on multiple occasions in bobsleigh, starting from 1988 in Calgary, then 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014 and in 2018 at Pyeongchang, South Korea, which saw a historic first for women.

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 winning the Amerigol LATAM tournament has been a tremendous boost.

“This tournament has catapulted these guys into a position where they are confident of their chances moving forward,” said Anderson.

“Ultimately we want to take this team to the Olympic Games. It's going to be a tall order, we're not fooling ourselves — because although we're a member of the international federation now, we have to have a grass roots programme, and we intend to kick that off very shortly.”

At the Amerigol LATAM Tournament, 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.

“We're going to defend this cup that we won in Fort Lauderdale in 2020 and in-between there will be opportunities for the team to play, and we're exploring all of those,” said Anderson.

“All the players are based overseas. All of them are descendants of Jamaica [that's a criteria]. Several of the players on this team never knew each other before, so what was amazing was how they gelled in the three days. We had players coming from as far away as England. One player [Marlon Williams – based in the UK] even went on a crowd- funding campaign to pay his way — And he wasn't sure of a game,” Anderson pointed out.

The team's co-captains, both based in Canada, shared their enthusiasm.

“This experience for me is life- changing. I'm very proud to be Jamaican and have the honour to represent Jamaica,” said Teegan Moore. “Wearing the Jamaican colours, it's dear to my heart. I've lots of family here in Jamaica and every time I put on that jersey I think about them. Every time I talk about the team I get goose bumps. To take all the accolades of winning and coming back to Jamaica to share these moments with family and friends it really means a lot, and I know that the support from family and friends is growing.”

Jaden Lindo also shared his view.

“It's an unbelievable experience to see how Jamaica has progressed. This is incredible for hockey, and Jamaica overall. The sky's the limit for Jamaica and we just keep proving people wrong. There's no ice here and to have a country that hasn't been participating much in winter sport because of the climate, it just shows that we can extend beyond our expectations and prove to the world that we're able to accomplish anything we put our minds to,” said Lindo.

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