Despite the difficulties in obtaining funding for friendly international matches leading up to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey5s Men’s World Cup, Fabian Stewart, president of the Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF), says the team is determined to compete and showcase their skills at the international level.
The 2024 Hockey5s World Cup, in its first edition, is the quadrennial world championship for men’s national hockey5s teams organised by the FIH. It will be held January 28-31 in Muscat, Oman. Jamaica will play in pool “B” alongside Egypt, India and Switzerland.
Stewart said that the Jamaican delegation is scheduled to depart the island on January 22 to make use of warm-up matches as preparation for the tournament.
“We just didn’t have the budget for friendly matches. All of that was in the budget that was originally crafted, but we just don’t have the budget for it. The idea was to have some matches even possibly en route,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer.
“We [tried] to do something with Trinidad; we [tried] to do something with the US; we [wanted] to do something with any team that we could get out of Europe; and even with Panama, because they play a lot of hockey, but we just simply do not have the budget.
“However, what we are trying to do is reach Oman a little early. They have set up a schedule for some practice games, and so the idea is that if we arrive early, we should be able to get a couple of practice games and sessions in that could compensate for the lack of having those games now. But that is what we are trying to do,” he further stated.
Stewart remarked that the overarching goal is to compete strongly while also garnering support for their general development as an international squad.
“We have gotten the assistance of an international physical trainer, a high-level physical trainer from England. He came, he did some sessions here, and he’s also trying to work with the players in terms of their individual preparation for England.
“In terms of the coaching, the entire coaching staff has done a pretty amazing job. They’ve managed that in terms of keeping the team together with the minimal resources that we have and allowing them to just stay focused and train.
“Once the nation was over that we qualified, literally making history, the next move in terms of competing at the World Cup was on the minds of the team because the team believes that they can compete. So they are preparing to compete as best as possible, given the resources, because we are up against very highly resourced teams, but the team is of the mindset to compete,” the president said.
Stewart said that the team is also exploring opportunities for players to participate in European leagues.
“And one of the incentives for them to compete well is that we, the JHF, have been looking into Europe, talking to FIH president Tayyab Ikram about how we can have some of our players participate and play in Europe.
“So it is very important that they turn up, compete effectively, and showcase their skills at this international event. Because we are men, and particularly for men, the stronger leagues for field hockey are actually in Europe. So this is one of the matriculation aspects.
“And I mean, the other benefit, which is quite simple, is that once you start to participate at the international level, there is a tendency for more support from the global organisation, the FIH,” Stewart ended.
SQUAD: Ajani Burton (goalkeeper â€“ captain), Rasheed Johnston (galkeeper), Richard Harris (co-captain), Christopher Reid (co-captain), Tyrone Vernon, Kemar Mitchell, George McGlashen, Daniel Powell, Shemar Gordon, and Tuseef.
RESERVES: Kevon Reid, Kevaun-Reidy Reid, Phillip Dawson, Jahchin Mullings, and Nickoy Stephenson.
MANAGEMENT TEAM: Duvaughn Henlon (head coach), Ebony McLean (manager), Kameisha Erskine (assistant coach/manager), Yyael Jagbir (physiotherapist), and Dr Michelle Holt (doctor)