Jamaica is well on its way to fielding its own national ice hockey team after the International Ice Hockey Federation voted the country as an associate member on Friday.
Associate member status means that the country still can’t compete in any IIHF sanctioned events, but the wheels certainly are in motion with the goal of fielding a team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Yes, Jamaica, the tiny Caribbean island nation with only one ice rink in its borders, is working on sending a hockey team to a Winter Olympiad. The comparisons to the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Games, immortalized by the tremendous film “Cool Runnings,” are all too obvious. The bobsled team, in fact, partly inspired the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Team (JOIHT) and helped blaze a trail for it.
“We had Devon Harris here with us from the bobsled team and he was telling us how when they first started, nobody took it seriously, but it’s been different for us,” Sandra Lord, a key strategist for the venture, told The Gleaner. “When we talk about this with people, everyone’s been so supportive of us. They remember the bobsled team and they have been so encouraging, we have support that has been beyond our expectations.”
The team already has an endorsement from the Jamaican Olympic Association and reportedly has the financial backing from a throng of donors to reach its estimated functioning budget of $1.7 million, a crucial hurdle leaped for a country struggling financially.