The name Kareem McKenzie may not ring a bell for many beyond the realms of local hockey but the GCC National Player is one of the most talked about talents locally.
At age 19, McKenzie, who is a gifted defender, has already embraced senior national duties, having made his senior international debut just over three years ago.
Since then McKenzie has made one of Guyana’s defensive positions his own and is regarded as being mature beyond his age, which happens to be his greatest asset.
In chatting with Stabroek Sport, the young man shared his familiar story of just falling in love with the sport after he inquired about an idle laying hockey stick.
“One day I was home, and I saw a hockey stick, and I asked my uncle – Kevin Spencer, a former national player – what it was and he explained what it was. We did a few knock ups and my interest took off from there,” he told Stabroek Sport of the event which happened nearly seven years ago. From then to now, the former Christ Church Secondary School student has worked his way through the ranks and experienced some of his fondest life memories, including his appearance at the last under – 21 Pan Am games in 2016 and more recently, Guyana’s fourth-place exit at the 2018 CAC games in Colombia.
With quite a bit of international experiences now under his belt, McKenzie, who is expected to be one of the central figures at the 2020 junior Pam Am games, said that the sport simply gives him a sense of fulfilment which drives him to compete for his counterparts.
“The people around hockey, the friends around hockey,” he explained are the chief motivating factors.
“They give me the energy to push beyond the norm and also my coaches Robert and Philip Fernandes… also my uncle Kevin Spencer, but yeah, hockey is just fun in the whole,” he explained.
McKenzie is currently on tour with the National Under – 19 Hockey Team in Trinidad as part of an initiative by the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) to expose the juniors to as much intense international hockey experiences. This will aid in streamlining the development of Guyana’s next rank of hockey players ahead of the 2020 calendar.
The juniors are under the guise of senior national coach Robert Fernandes, who shared his thoughts on McKenzie’s advances in the sport over the years.
“Kareem, at the age of 16, started to make the senior national team… he already has quite a bit of international experience and is probably Guyana’s best decision maker,” Fernandes said of the youngster, who is among the lot expected to carry the baton well into the future.