What a year! What a year! 37 is not an often-celebrated number. In fact, one could safely wager that it ranks among the least celebrated and seldom recognised milestones where ages and numbers are concerned. Not this 37 though! In 2022 the Barbados Hockey Federation (BHF) celebrated 37 years of unbroken hosting of the Barbados International Hockey Festival and what a celebration it was. Our beloved Hockey Festival, also affectionately known worldwide as the Banks Festival, was successfully staged again under bright blue skies, golden sunshine, and with cooling island breeze. 
Not only was the Hockey Festival celebrating its 37th year, an excellent reason in itself, but there was also cause to celebrate the return of Hockey in Barbados sans many of the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions, as well as the icing on the 37-layer cake - the welcome return of our overseas participants! Notwithstanding all else (such as the fantastic actual Hockey), this is for us the most important aspect of the Hockey Festival – our visiting participants. As was remarked by a local Hockey stalwart just this year, the comradery of the ‘Hockey Tribe’ makes the Hockey Festival truly what it is – an international, yet distinctively Caribbean mix of friends, family, competitors, and good vibes. We were more than delighted to welcome visiting participants – players, officials, and supporters – from the U.S.A., Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and the U.K. 
This year we also reintroduced our full seven-day schedule with the full social event roster for the Hockey Festival, because of course, it can’t be much of a Hockey Festival without the appropriate Festivities, of course. The social events were reimagined and relaunched, much to the approval and enjoyment of all. We kicked-off the week with our opening reception and party for teams, and what an opening reception it was. Hosted for the first time at the new Halo Lounge in the famous St. Lawrence Gap, teams were treated to cultural experiences, modern dancers, local mixes and fare, with DJs and MCs ensuring the vibes kept flowing. This amazing start set the pace and the atmosphere for what was a tremendously fun and exhilarating week of Hockey and festivities. 
Participants were treated to full days of Hockey in the four competition categories: men’s, women’s, mixed and open masters (35 and over), and full evenings of social events. Of particular note was the now popular games night, where teams challenge each other off the field in local popular games like dominoes, cards, and Hockey bingo, all while renowned international chef Adrian Cumberbatch filled the air with his BBQ mastery further tantalizing the senses. Later in the week participants took to the seas to enjoy the popular Festival Party Cruise. This was a night cruise to unwind and have a dance to the season’s best tunes shuffled by the Barbados’ top DJs. 
The excitement of the week continued right down to the very last minute, as the tournament moved into its semi-final and final matches, the medal ceremony, and the after-party. After the keenly contested finals matches, local soca artists led the after-party, which was held right on site at the Hockey Centre in Wildey, St. Michael. It was an excellent and memorable week all around. 
Outside of the Barbados International Hockey Festival, Hockey is played in Barbados practically year-round, with
the local leagues starting in February and wrapping up in November, with some short breaks in between. Over the course of a standard Hockey year, we welcome many overseas teams and clubs for a variety of Hockey tours at all levels - adult, college, and youth. Many visiting teams come as multi-sport teams, and we welcome them all. We look forward and hope to be welcoming you as well in the very near future. 
Looking forward to 2023, planning is already underway to grow our beloved sport and the Hockey Festival, which is being hosted from August 20th to 26th, 2023. In April 2023, Barbados is also very excited to be hosting the (Under 21) Junior Pan American Championships for Men and Women, which will see the first major use of our brand-new pavilion and players facility. We already have a few inquiries from international teams who plan to visit with us and participate in the 2023 Hockey Festival, so we are very enthusiastic about 2023 and hosting all teams and participants. Whether you are a player, supporter, official, fan, or you just love the sun, sea, and sand – come join us. Not wanting to give too much away, but we plan on reintroducing our beach fun day – a day with no Hockey and just beach vibes - and there may be a day with paint, rum, a parade, and soca, but you may just have to join us to find out. Come and be a part of the ultimate Hockey experience here in paradise. 
See you soon.