COOL Runnings was released nine years before Sol Saddoo was born, but the Blackburn Hawks youngster is using the 1993 film to inspire him after he was approached about representing the Jamaican ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics one day.

Despite not having a rink of their own at this stage, Jamaica recently set up an ice hockey programme for the first time in a bid to compete in the Olympics and now a 12-year-old from Chorley has been asked to join the country’s youth setup.


The opportunity to represent the country where his grandparents were born came by chance, after Sol’s father James contacted Jamaica’s official ice hockey website to enquire whether he could buy a shirt for his son to wear at training with the Hawks’ under 14s.

Instead Jamaica offered Sol the chance to wear the shirt for real, and he is set to link up with the country’s youth squad for the first time later this year as they assess his potential.

A number of players based in the United States and Canada, where ice hockey NHL are also likely to be involved in the squad.

Jamaica’s bid to send an ice hockey team to the Winter Olympics is reminiscent of the famous story of the bobsleigh team that competed at Calgary in 1988 – a tale depicted by John Candy and co in Cool Runnings.

Sol had not even heard of the film before his own opportunity arose, but he was inspired when he watched it at Christmas.

“When my dad said there was a chance I might be able to play for Jamaica I just thought, ‘Wow!,” said Sol, who attends Parklands High School.

“My dad told me about the movie Cool Runnings, which I didn’t know about.

“But we watched it a couple of weeks ago and now I’ve watched that it makes me want to play for them even more.

“If could play in the Olympics one day it’s something I’d really want to do.”

Jamaica are aiming to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, although a more realistic aim for Sol would be to feature in the Games four years later.

A total of 12 nations competed in the men’s tournament at last year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, while 21 more countries took part in qualifying including Israel, Romania, Kazakhstan and Mexico.

The opportunity to represent Jamaica has come as a real surprise to a family who had no ice hockey history before Sol picked up a stick just over two years ago.

“No-one in the family had played ice hockey at all, we had gone ice skating once or twice but that was it really,” said father James, who works as a police officer at Greenbank Police Station in Blackburn.

“I’ve been more into judo and martial arts, which we have done together.

“You just try to find what sports they enjoy – we tried football, horse riding and then ice hockey.

“He started in the under 12s at the Hawks and now he plays for the under 14s, this is his second full season at the club.

“They have a very good development programme there.

“We wondered whether there was a Jamaican ice hockey team and if we could buy a shirt for him to train in, because at the Hawks they all train in the shirts of their favourite teams.

“We emailed the website to enquire about it and the email we got back was ‘How old is your son?’, and wanting to know about him because they were looking for players who were eligible.

“We were absolutely gobsmacked by the response, and Sol is excited about it.

“My parents were born in Jamaica and moved over here, so Sol has got quite a rich cultural heritage because he’s British and Jamaican, and his mother is Scottish.

“We all went to Jamaica for a family reunion about three years ago.

“They don’t have a rink in the country at the moment and it’s mainly people based in America and Canada who will be playing for them because ice hockey is much bigger there.

“But one of the conditions of when they joined the International Ice Hockey Federation is that they build a rink to develop local talent.

“I think they’re just deciding where is best to have it.

“They are aiming to have a senior team in the Winter Olympics in 2018.

“Possibly Sol might still be too young then but maybe they might have a junior team then.

“He would probably be aiming more for the 2022 Olympics if that’s possible.

“He has set his sights on that but as parents we won’t push him.

“If in a couple of years he wants to hang his skates up, that will be absolutely fine.”

Sol’s progress has even tempted his friends to take up the sport.

“I’m a left winger and I really enjoy playing,” he said.

“I’ve made a lot of friends at the Hawks, and the coaches have really helped me.

“I’ve told some of my friends about it and they want to try it as well now.

“If I got the chance to play for Jamaica I’d be really honoured.”