The Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) has secured a significant sponsorship deal from US-based Geneva Financial Home Loans to support its drive towards developing the sport and qualifying the team for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games.
Geneva Financial Home Loans is a mortgage company headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, with more than 130 branches across 46 states in the US. In announcing the deal with JOIHF, Rachel Caple, chief sales and revenue officer and wife of JOIHF board member Sean Caple, said: “My husband is a board member and the director of hockey operations for JOIHF, which makes the success of the programme all the more personal. To have been able to watch this programme develop and grow has been rewarding and I can't wait to see what they will accomplish long-term.”
Geneva was the principal sponsor of the team that participated as an exhibition team in the October 2021 LATAM tournament in Fort Lauderdale. Jamaica had to play as an exhibition team because although winning this tournament the last time it was played in 2019, the team was denied the opportunity to defend the title on the grounds that the team was too strong for the opposition. Jamaica went on to play six games, winning all and scoring 58 goals with only seven against, beating Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Lebanon in the process.
Caple added: “Our company is built on the principle of humans supporting humans, and this opportunity to stand behind a team that has accomplished so much in such a short time and which is working towards the Winter Olympics Games of 2030 was not to be missed.”
Both the corporate office in Arizona and the Colorado branch have committed to supporting JOIHF's goals.
Don Anderson, president of JOIHF in welcoming this important development, says that the sponsorship deal has not yet been quantified from a financial perspective, but that it will significantly enhance JOIHF's programme towards the growth of the sport, both locally and internationally.
JOIHF is targeting play in at least three tournaments in 2022, as well as hosting a two-week camp in Kingston during the summer to help build the local component of the programme and recruit and develop the local talent for the creation of a local league.
This is one of the prerequisites for playing in Olympic qualifying events. The plan is to commence with roller hockey in the summer programme and use this as a base to transition into playing on ice. In this regard, JOIHF is also currently negotiating with ice hockey entities in the US and Canada with a view to having locals spend short stints in their schools to learn to skate on ice.
Late last year JOIHF pencilled an agreement with the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), through their Global Goals and Dreams programme. The National Hockey League is the biggest ice hockey league in the world. Under this agreement the NHLPA will provide a wide range of hockey equipment to assist with the start-up of the grass-roots programme here in Jamaica. Included will be helmets, gloves and sticks and a wide assortment of other hockey equipment. The target will be inner-city boys and girls as well as high school students who want to learn the game.
During 2021, also, JOIHF introduced the teaching of the fundamentals of ice hockey at the G C Foster College and this is expected to resume shortly. JOIHF is also in dialogue with the local field hockey association with a view to recruiting talent to build the local pool of players.