THE SPORT of hockey is set to get a shot in the arm come the middle of this year, with the Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) set to host the Pan American Confederation Hockey5s World Cup qualifiers in early June.
President of the JHF, Fabian Stewart, confirmed the news to The Gleaner after his team recently held an event-management workshop in preparation for the tournament.
Two facilitators, Trinidad and Tobago’s Maureen Craig-Rousseau from the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) and Argentinian Laura Macchiotti from the Pan Am Hockey Federation, were in the island preparing the JHF for
the upcoming event, which will see between 12 and 16 international teams coming to Jamaica in a bid to seek qualification to the first Hockey5s World Cup to be held in Oman in 2024.
Host Oman, Belgium, Poland, and the Netherlands have already qualified from the Euro Championships, with Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria qualifying from the African Championship on the men’s side.
Among the women, hosts Oman, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia have already booked their ticket to the inaugural event.
Stewart says 12 teams have already confirmed their interest in the Pan Am qualifiers, with the United States, Canada, and teams from Central America and the Caribbean eagerly anticipating the tournament.
“We expect most of the teams represented in the region because it presents a less expensive opportunity for smaller countries of making their way to the World Cup,” said Stewart.
First played in preparation for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Hockey5s is a super-fast, highly skilful, short format of hockey that is designed to be adaptable to multiple surfaces.
“Hockey5s is like the T20 of hockey. It’s a smaller game, much faster with end-to-end action as the ball cannot leave the field. It’s five players to a team instead of the traditional 11, and we anticipate a very exciting tournament,” said Stewart.
Stewart and his team have their hands full, as the JHF will be sending a female team to Cayman this weekend to participate in a three-game tour of that island against a Cayman Invitational team.
Stewart says the games will form part of the national team’s preparation for upcoming tournaments.
“Apart from the Hockey5s tournament, we have the Central America and Caribbean Games coming up in June, which both the male and female teams have qualified for. The tour to Cayman was conceptualised to give the female team some exposure and experience before the games mid-year.”
Seventeen players are expected to make the trip to Cayman, along with national coach Nicole Bradshaw.