Stepping into the unknown
On the brink of their first opportunity to qualify for the Hockey5s World Cup next year, Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) technical director Dr Michelle Holt says she is targeting the performance of the Jamaican women as a stepping stone to what is possible in the format in the future.
Jamaica will begin their campaign tomorrow at the Hockey5s Pan American Cup at the Mona Hockey field, opening against Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica are in a pool which consists of Panama, Puerto Rico and the United States.
The team will be stepping into the unknown as it will be the first time the players will be playing this hockey format in a tournament of this size. But Holt believes that their rapid understanding of the format has put them in a good stead place to make a strong showing.
“Every day the team is improving. They are beginning to understand the Hockey5s format. It is a new sport in Jamaica except for one player who played in the juniors in 2018. The rest of the team has never played it, so it is brand new,” Holt told The Gleaner. “They also are improving their understanding of how to use the sideboards and backboards, how to defend and how to try and score goals. So it is a learning curve and I think they are improving.”
The 10-player squad will be led by captain Kamille Griffiths and vice-captain Imauny Linton and Holt says they want to use the opportunity they have of hosting the tournament to maximise its reach to the clubs and schools as they see it as a tournament they can be a force in.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity for Jamaica and that part excites me. We know a lot of school teams are going to come to watch and see. It is the size of a netball or basketball court, and we can spread hockey and grow something I have loved all my life,” Holt said. “For the time that we had to prepare, we would have done our best and we will keep looking at this format because it is something that we could become a world force in because I think it is made for the kind of players that we have in Jamaica.”
While the road has been difficult because of the hiatus the COVID-19 pandemic caused, Holt hopes that the tournament will be a launchpad to grow the format in Jamaica as well as the sport in general.
“We know it is going to take time to rebuild and get to where we are going and get past where we were before. And some in the (JHF) are up to the challenge,” Holt said.
Full Women’s squad
Kamille Griffiths (Captain), Imauny Linton (Vice Captain), Lore-Ann McIntosh, Brean Blackwood, Sauwana Gordon, Demi Nicholson, Kareme Hudson. Aaliyah James, Jonel Witter and Ajhnique Williams.