A junior hockey player will have their fees for the Okanagan Hockey School funded by local supermarket Seafish Chandlery.

13-year-old James applied to the school in England on advice from one of his friends who attends. “I looked into it and was umming and ahing and then decided I wanted to go,” said James. “I wrote to a lot of different places (for funding) and Seafish was the first to get back to me.

“I’m looking forward to the ice-hockey but also broadening my horizons and learning a different way of life.”

Hamish Wylie, CEO of Seafish Falklands Ltd, said: “The Seafish Chandlery has sponsored the junior teams since the beginning and they’ve performed remarkedly well over the years. One of the things we found, with CFL sponsoring the badminton, is if you provide the ability for training and coaching the performance increases all the time. With the junior hockey, there are players with huge potential and James is one of them.”

When asked if this is something they will consider again Mr Wylie said: “Very much so. I think the hockey is very much an established sport and supported well by parents and children. It’s got a long life ahead of it and we’re certainly looking at continuing sponsorship and will keep helping them to raise the bar year on year. Whether that’s through sponsorship like this or with equipment.”

News shirts and fixtures were revealed at the launch night which took place on Tuesday evening at the Stanley Leisure Centre. The season was not able to fully begin last year due to the global pandemic and Vice-Chair of the Hockey Association Sam Cockwell said: “This year has given us time to look at our shirt design and relaunch all our dek and inline teams.”

Hockey is the most popular sport in the Falkland Islands. Across five leagues there are 25 teams ranging from pewee to elite, youth teams proving especially popular. “Over a hundred people are involved this year,” said Sam. “Dek hockey has taken a big surge which is great as it had really died off in 2019. It’s been really positive for us.”

Indoor hockey was founded in the Falklands in 2006 by ex-professional ice hockey player Grant Budd. Ice hockey is also popular and despite there being no ice rink in the Falklands to practise on, teams have competed in tournaments in Chile and Miami.

Of future tournaments, Sam said: “We’re working really closely with the Latam Cup. They have been really supportive of us going again. We’re hoping to go away in October but that’s dependant on travel and how people feel about going away. I’d like to see us go again, whether this year happens we can’t say but we’re definitely working toward it.”