Jesse Kular - a field hockey legend in Ontario and beyond

June 22, 2017

 

 

Mr. Jagjit 'Jesse' Jiti Kular helped shape the hockey community in Ontario, as a player, a coach, a great organizer, and the founder of AKPro. Jesse was always kind, warm, generous and a voice of reason. He was not only a two-time Olympian, but a mentor to those who wanted to grow in hockey and in life. In Canada, he was an important ambassador in the development of hockey in Quebec and Ontario as Canadian hockey grew in capability and international status in the 80s and 90s.

 

 

Jesse grew up playing hockey in Kenya. He was originally from Mombasa, and started playing hockey in primary school. He continued playing when he moved to Nairobi for high school, then continued on when he moved to India for college in 1964. Jesse was selected to play in a series against the Indian National team in 1968 on the other side, called 'the Rest of India'. He returned to Kenya in 1969 where he joined the Sikh Union Nairobi team.

 

Jesse was first selected for the Kenyan national team for the Mexico 1968 Olympics, however this was during the time that only 11 players played in a match with no subs. His first international cap with Kenya was in 1969 against India, and Jesse represented the national side until 1973. He was selected to represent Kenya in the 1971 and 1973 Amsterdam World Cups.  He also played in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. 

 

Jesse moved to Canada in 1973. He was one of the key faces of hockey in Ontario since he arrived. He worked for the Quebec Hockey Federation and was the man behind the legendary Montreal Cup tournament, one of the most significant North American hockey tournaments of the time. Jesse's reputation and organization skills guaranteed a successful event, not just for the high calibre of the hockey, but Jesse also knew how to put on a great Saturday night party.  Outside of organizing club and provincial events in Quebec and Ontario, Jesse also managed the Canadian Men's National Team on tours to Italy and Spain, in 1992.

 

In 1999, Jesse was hired as the Technical Director of FHO, his focus in that position was to promote umpiring, coaching and player development. In 2001 Jesse became the Executive Director of FHO and held that position until he retired in 2005. 

 

Since his stint with FHO, he continued to be a strong proponent of hockey across Ontario, and could always be found at tournaments on sunny summer days - in his later years, usually handing out trophies.  

 

Post 2005, Jesse was well known for running a field hockey business, AKPRo, in both Ontario and BC, with his whole family - his wife Sukhi, and his two sons Aman and Kiran.  AKPRo was founded over 20 years ago, and not only ensures that hockey players are well kitted out, but also that hockey continues to develop in Canada. AKPro is the proud sponsor of many events across Ontario in field hockey, including the GTA based women's High Performance League. They also put on a series of hockey camps for all age groups and skill levels with top international coaches. 

 

Jesse will be affectionately remembered by a wide variety of people in the field hockey community across Ontario.

 


'Jesse loved hockey. Wherever he went he looked to help grow the game and give as many people as possible a chance to experience and play the sport he loved. He will truly be missed by all who knew him.' - Shankar Premakanthan

 

 

'I knew Jesse for over 40 years, we connected in many different ways (as a player, official, organizer, and also, importantly, through our families). He was always friendly, helpful and compassionate. The first time I entered a Sikh Temple, it was as Jesse’s guest and I still remember how proud he was to explain some of the concepts of the Sikh culture as some of the young boys from the Lions Hockey Club showed their respect by serving food to their visitors. It was my privilege to call Jesse a friend and we will all miss him.' - Derek Sandison

 

 

'Jesse Kular’s sudden demise is shocking and disheartening to us all. He was a friend, and a mentor to me, and many others around him. Besides achieving heights in the field of sports, Jesse Kular had attainted accolades in social life as well. His knowledge and wisdom on all walks of life were reflective in any social setting. I was fortunate enough to see him up close, the very champion of life and sports. The last Sunday of his life, we were together at Iceland fields at a hockey tournament. As usual, Jesse was dressed smart and sharp. Walking down to the fields, he was greeted by everyone he came across and always reciprocated the love and gesture that he was shown. He distributed medals, and posed for pictures with teams. Then, Jesse had some food from the langar and also gave an interview for a TV channel. Finishing his day and ready to leave, we decided to go for drinks at Boston Pizza. After beer and some pizza he left at around 7pm, without me knowing this would be my last goodbye to him. My deepest condolences go to his wife Sukhi, and sons Kiran and Aman, and all friends and relatives. His memories will stay fresh with me and us all, forever. A solemn salute to my big brother Jesse Kular.' Satpal Singh 

 

 

'My favourite memory of Jesse was when we somehow ended up playing forward on the same team at the Montreal six aside tournament. It was awesome to pass the ball with him and see his killer finish in the circle up close!' - Hari Kant

 

 

'Jesse was very instrumental in guiding me through the Golden Rules of the Sport – Love, Respect and Discipline, that amplified through my hockey career. He always portrayed his generosity and total respect for diversity and inclusion, and did not entertain any negative energy from any level, and always stayed strong with principal and protocol. He was the first to take on any challenge and proved to be the most influential personality with all the diverse communities across Canada.' - Raphael Fernandes

 

 

Jesse regretfully passed away at home, on Monday June 12th, 2017. He was 75. He will be fondly remembered as a legend in hockey in Ontario. 

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