Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Technical director of Jamaica's female hockey team, Dr Michelle Holt, said the lack of financial support and the rapid deterioration of the Mona Astro Turf have combined to hamper the development of the sport locally.
According to Dr Holt, the Mona Astro Turf has outlived its time and is in desperate need of repairs.
"Mona turf was never the ideal surface for international hockey because you must have a wet turf to host international tournaments and so a lot of teams won't come here to play on it," said Dr Holt.
"I am appealing to the authorities to make sure that when we replace the turf, we replace it with a wet one," she said.
"The turf that we play on is not encouraging the kind of the hockey that we need to play and, therefore, this has caused the absence of international hockey in Jamaica," Dr Holt said.
The wet artificial hockey turf helps the ball to travel more smoothly along the ground. It also helps to reduce friction burns and bruises on the skin when players fall.
She pointed out that it has been now over two years since the Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) last hosted an international at the Mona Astro Turf.
"We need to play a lot of indoor hockey at all levels until Jamaica owns a wet surface." I think that once we get a wet surface here in, then the fortunes of the hockey will change," Dr Holt said.
Ball hard to control
Continuing, she said: "In our games here in Jamaica, teams don't' press because it is easy to beat the press in Jamaica, as it is hard to control the ball on our surface."
Dr Holt guided Jamaica's Under-21 female team to a disappointing 10th-place finish at last month's Pan American Games in Mexico. The Jamaicans' only victory of the tournament was a 2-0 win over bottom-place team Paraguay. Trudy-Ann Knight and captain Demi Nicholson were the goalscorers for Jamaica.
She has also called on the local body to provide more international tournaments for junior players.
"I think the only way that we could have done better is if we had more experience, but we did well in terms of the experience that we got," Dr Holt said.
"The girls are talented, they are committed and they are good and they did their best. However, the turf that we are playing on here in Jamaica is just not helping us to get the results that we want to get.
"It cost us a lot of money to send the team away this last time .... more money than we had budgeted for, but we have to do it to have hockey stay alive," she remarked.
Dr Holt also noted that the JHF needed to provide the local coaches with a lot more training to improve knowledge of the sport.
"We must bring all the coaches from the different levels up to speed with the changes in the international games because this will certainly help the development of the sport," Dr Holt reasoned.