Men’s team excited and ready for tough Hockey5s World Cup qualifiers
AMID a plethora of challenges, which includes mainly financial struggles, Team Jamaica will be looking to qualify for the 2024 Hockey5s World Cup in Muscat, Oman, with the qualifiers set for June 4-11 at the Mona Hockey Field. The tournament will include nine female teams and eight male teams from around the world. Duvaughn Henlon, head coach of Jamaica’s male team, said that despite the numerous challenges, playing on home soil should be of an advantage as the group is ready and excited for the prospects that lie ahead as qualifying for the World Cup would give hockey a big boost.
“Preparation has been very difficult as the team has been preparing for two tournaments at the same time with limited to no resources. There’s no nutrition plan and for us to even conduct coaching sessions or train is a cost that is borne by both the players and coaching staff.
“However, to have home support in the stands is a plus and regardless of the difficulties, the team wants to play hockey. They’re excited, so the guys will be fully ready to go. Qualifying for the World Cup would be a big boost for the sport of hockey as more sponsorship would now come in our direction,” Henlon said.
Coach Henlon, who will oversee a very young Jamaican team, with the average age being 21, added that this World Cup qualifier will only be the second major tournament for the group but they will bring some experience from winning the 2022 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) championships gold medal where they defeated Bermuda 4-1 in the final.
“Hockey5s is a fairly new format as it basically started in 2014 at the junior level so it was only played by Under-18 players. The team is very young as the average age of the team is 21 years old, majority of the players only got their first opportunity to play at the senior level last year at the CAC qualifiers in Bermuda where they won the gold medal, so this will be their second time playing for the national team,” coach Henlon added.
Jamaica, ranked at 59th in the world, have been drawn in Group A alongside the likes of 22nd ranked United States, 58th ranked Puerto Rico and 87th ranked Panama. Coach Henlon added that with Hockey5s being a relatively new sport not much is known about his opponents but he believes the Americans should pose the biggest threat for the Jamaican team.
“Hockey5s hasn’t been played much in this region and it will be played for the first time in Jamaica. It will also be the first time we will be playing it as a World Cup qualifier. However, I would say that we stand a good chance against the teams, outside of team USA we should be able to compete well against everyone else,” Henlon said.