MANY persons are encouraged by the level of maturity that 16-year-old hockey player Kareem McKenzie displays – both on and off the field.“He has great maturity for such a young player. He is so calm and composed under pressure and has great control and deceptive acceleration that get him past opponents easily,” said Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) president Philip Fernandes, who truly admires Kareem’s character.
The Christ Church Secondary School student plays for the Bounty GCC men’s team. He’s also a part of the national senior men’s team, and the national Under-19 team. He has represented Guyana at the Men’s Pan American Challenge in Chile, and Junior Pan American Championship in Canada.
His maturity, coupled with his skill, gives Kareem all the right ingredients to continue on his path to become one of Guyana’s greatest hockey players. Kareem already has his sights set on representing even higher on the international stage, including at the highest stage – the Hockey World Cup.
“I want to make it to the Junior and Senior (Hockey) World Cup in the next few years’ time,” the youngster said.
Also, apart from Kareem’s own aspirations, he wants to see hockey in Guyana developed, particularly in the area of better infrastructure. Kareem lamented that Guyana still does not have the right playing turf and this puts players at a disadvantage when they play in tournaments overseas.
“I’m hoping that the GHB gets a water-base turf for hockey players in Guyana to get experience on a turf so the Guyana men’s and women’s national teams, and the club teams can get used to the speed of the turf,” Kareem pointed out. He also talked about wanting to see more in terms of sponsorship.
“Funding and commitment are two major issues, because the Guyana male and female national teams can go to many tournaments around the world, but we lack funding,” he noted.
Kareem had his first experience at an international tournament when he represented Guyana at the Pan American Challenge in Chile. He added experience with the Junior Pan American Championship last year.
At the Junior Pan Am Kareem was faced with the struggle of balancing his preparations for that tournament and his academic obligations, as he was in the process of writing his CSEC examinations concurrently.
Kareem even had to travel for the tournament a few days after his other teammates, to accommodate his exams and still develop his hockey.
“The preparation for Canada I think I did balance it well, but I wasn’t 100% prepared for the competition because most of the practice sessions were in the evenings and Sunday morning when I had lessons,” he recalled.
But he’s glad he was still able to be a part of the tournament, because he really loves getting to experience what the competition outside of Guyana is like.
“I like to travel and play against other clubs and countries. I get to explore around different countries and play high, intense hockey which allows me to play at a high level and with good composure.” Kareem related.