The Abu Dhabi Storms women's ice hockey team returned with a bronze medal from a continental tournament in Hong Kong determined to launch a domestic league.
The third-place finish in the Hong Kong Mega Ice Fives tournament earned the team an automatic invitation to next year's event, prompted inquiries from the other participating teams to play friendlies on a reciprocal basis and increased the resolve of the team manager to pitch for a competitive competition in the UAE.
"This is a great boost for the team as it was clear evidence that the Storms ladies are now being considered worthy contenders in the women's hockey community," Ruwaida Othman, the team manager, said. "We hope that the coming season brings about the formation of more teams in the UAE as well as a league of our own that will allow us to polish our skills and more importantly to promote this wonderful sport in the local community."
The UAE are one of the more progressive federations in Asia. The men's team have won the Challenge Cup of Asian twice in the past four years, an Under 20 league was established earlier this year while there are Olympic standard rinks in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The Storms trained three times a week, under their Canadian coach Seanna Murphy, before travelling to Hong Kong. Plans are in place to follow a schedule next season.
"We plan to have a conditioning camp off the ice with a personal trainer when we resume training after a short break," Othman said. "The training for next season will be more intense to improve both, physically and tactically ."
Their performance in Hong Kong was testament to their preparation. In 2010, the team were "nervous and clueless", according to captain Fatima Al Qubaisi. "The players were better prepared this time and they held their own against all of their opponents; this was rewarded by the bronze medal in only the second year since a women's hockey team was established in Abu Dhabi," Othman said.
The Storms won the opener, 6-0, against opponents from Chinese Taipei, drew the next two and went down, 5-0, to the hosts and eventual champions WIHA Saints.
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