Following government approval for national team training, president of the Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF), Fabian Stewart, is anticipating that approval for competition is not far behind.
The approval for senior men’s and women’s teams to begin preparation for the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) qualifiers in April is the first activity for the sport locally in 18 months due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
However, Stewart is hoping that the protocols and procedures they put in place will lead to the return of some local club competitions soon.
“We got the approvals in December, and we have been sensitising a group of individuals because there are certain things to be done, records to be kept, procedures and people to put in place to ensure we have the type of procedures that will keep us safe,” he said.
“We have done the work, and the national team has a very close engagement, a qualifier for the CAC Games in Bermuda in April.
“The national team will start their preparation in a very short time for that qualification tournament, and it is absolutely important we participate because we have been out of competition for two years and two years out of the international ranking,” he pointed out.
Stewart said lack of activity locally has curtailed development of the sport and there is an urgent need for the resumption of club competitions.
He noted, however, that things will not be the same and that stakeholders must work in accordance with the new requirements for the sport to return fully.
“We may not be able to have spectators based on regulations. But the fact that we have done and cemented the procedures, we can look to then start having smaller junior and senior tournaments.
“Once you have the national team training, we will have all the procedures in very short order,” he said.
“We are looking at having smaller competitions called hockey five. We will have to go back and apply for the competition itself, but we are looking to have the hockey five competitions so the clubs can plan and start their rebuilding process.
“I do not think we are far off from actual competition, however, the competition that we are going to introduce will have to be modified and mindful of protocols
“Therefore, we cannot have the same type of competitions as procedures have to change, and that is what we are working on,” he stated
After nearly two years of dormancy, Stewart said they would also have to work on revitalising the clubs and players but that they are ready for the challenge.
“When you have over 18 months of layoffs, we anticipate that we will have to redevelop, remotivate, and re-energise our clubs.
“It would be foolhardy to anticipate that you would automatically have the same level of participation.
“This COVID environment will be extremely challenging for sports because we are talking about participation, health, spectator engagement, and resources.
“So it is going to be a very difficult to rebuild hockey based on the current environment, but like we did before, we are going to face this challenge,” he stated.