Abu Dhabi // The Abu Dhabi Storms women's ice hockey team will fly to Hong Kong on Sunday a more experienced and technically superior group compared to the "clueless" party who made their debut in the tournament two year's ago.
That is the verdict of Fatima Al Qubaisi who will captain the 17-strong team comprising Emiratis and four expatriates from Canada, Finland, Yemen and the Philippines in the Hong Kong Mega Ice Hockey Fives in the five-day event starting on Tuesday. The team finished third in the four-team tournament in 2010.
"We were nervous and clueless," Al Qubaisi said. "We prepared for it but travelled without playing any competitive games. Everything we did was for the first time at that time. It was a great experience though. This time we travel knowing what exactly to expect and having prepared well. We are a more confident team."
The Storms have been training three times a week with Seanna Murphy, their professional Canadian coach. Two days have been spent working on technical skills and tactics while the third on physical conditioning. They also played four matches against the Dubai Cameluscious as preparation for matches against two teams from Hong Kong, another from Thailand and one representing Chinese Taipei.
Fatima Al Suwaidi, the forward, will spearhead the campaign. The 17-year-old pupil at Al Worood Private School in Abu Dhabi has only been playing for the sport for less than two years after enrolling herself in the Storms' recruitment programme.
"I loved the sport from the time I had my first swing," Al Suwaidi said. "I am working hard to improve my game as well as raise the bar of the Emirates team."
Ruwaida Othman, the team manager, is confident more Emiratis will take up the sport.
"We are only in the second year since we formed a women's team and already the game is very popular," Othman said.
"If we have more players, we can have more teams and start playing against each other. Once we have enough players, everything will fall in place to start a women's league."
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