Could Jamaica create a buzz in ice hockey in the same way that a few Army officers did 25 years ago when they signed up to compete in bobsled?
Jamaica has become the newest member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), securing associate membership at the IIHF annual congress in Helsinki, Finland.
A group of mainly first- and second-generation Jamaicans living in the United States were behind the drive for another Jamaica sports team to be part of an international winter event. Sandhurst-trained former Jamaican soldier, Devon Harris, who now lives in upstate New York, was part of a delegation that met with Jamaica’s then sports minister, Olivia Grange and Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) representatives last December to garner support for an ice hockey program.
“Getting recognized by the sport’s governing body is great news and the first step,” Harris told Share. “Finding guys in Jamaica who grew up on skates and played the sport is going to be difficult, so you have to look at players of Jamaican heritage in North America and other parts of the world who might be interested in playing for Jamaica. That’s where the focus is going to be.”
Graeme Townshend, the first Jamaican to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), is a consultant for the new federation.
“This is something that we have been working on for a few months,” the former Toronto Maple Leaf skating coach said. “This is one step and we have a long way to go. I have been asked to identify players who may have an interest in representing Jamaica. There are some players who may be interested, but we have to see where it will go. This thing is still in the infancy stage and there is a lot of work to be done before we get to the point where we see a Jamaican team skating on ice.”
There are several players of Jamaican heritage in the NHL, including Chris Stewart and his younger brother, Anthony; Chris Beckford-Tseu and Pernell Karl (P.K.) Subban whose fathers are Jamaican.
By RON FANFAIR