Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport
THE Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) had much to celebrate this past Sunday.
Like the country's Independence, the sport's local governing body revelled in its 50th year of existence, hitting up a fund-raising dinner and awards ceremony where it honoured some 'stalwarts' who played a role in its success over the five decades.
The list embraced not only players and administrators from among the ranks of 'JHF Outstanding Members and Players', but its extended family such as the nation's executive sporting ambassadors - Michael 'Mike' Fennell and Neville 'Teddy' McCook - of the respective Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and 'Friends of Hockey' categories.
"In this our 50th year of Independence, the JHF is indeed proud to be part of this excitement, as we celebrate this significant milestone," said the association's president, Leon Mitchell. "We, too, must examine our progress and show our appreciation to our stalwarts who have helped to make this wonderful sport a success."
They also included media and sponsors, chief among them on this occasion being the University of Technology (UTech), which hosted the function at its Sir Alfred Sangster Auditorium.
Advantages of nation building
It is a supportive role which drew a fair bit of recognition on the institution and, by and large, a wider faculty of sponsorship for sports, with stated advantages of nation building embellished by several speakers, including Dr Colin Gyles, dean of the Faculty of Science (UTech), and the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley.
"The value of sports to Jamaica cannot be overstated," Neita-Headley noted, then issued a "challenge to sponsors to take on unconventional sport".
This, she said, is necessary to assist in fulfilling Jamaica's vast sporting potential, as she pointed to the fact that only David Weller's cycling bronze at the 1980 Games in Moscow was achieved outside track and field.
In this regard, Neita-Headley added volume to her post-Olympic message for the "expansion of the cycle of sports".
For hockey, the urging appeared timely with the national men's and women's Under-21 teams set for action at the Junior Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from September 10-23.
The event served the dual purpose of garnering additional funds to facilitate their participation, and Neita-Headley joined the calls of support for the additional funding needed by the team to foot its bill for the upcoming championships, stating that "Hockey needs a hand to help it up the ladder".
Gyles said their contribution was inspired by two main things - the development of sports and sport entrepreneurship.
"This event should be emulated by all sporting bodies," he said. "Where funds are short we can't give up, we have to put in the effort to raise the funds."
It is an effort for funding that the JHF hopes will fulfil its goal of not only participating at the Junior Pan Ams, but advancing with a top-place finish as one of the qualifiers for the Central American and Caribbean Games. Then, the JHF would have more reason to be celebrating its 50th anniversary.
JHF Outstanding Members - Katherine Wilson, Carol Cuffley, Valerie Hall, Norris Davis;
JHF Outstanding Players - Donald James, Myrna Brown, Marguerite Cooke (late), Tony Burrowes (late);
Jamaica Olympic Association - Michael Fennell;
Friends of Hockey - Neville McCook, Kingston Commissioners Club, Derrick
Sponsors - University of Technology, Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association
Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association, Sports Development Foundation;