SRINAGAR // The Indian ice hockey team, with most of their members drawn from Ladakh bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountains ranges, are on their way to play in Abu Dhabi. Ladakh, in eastern Kashmir, comprises vast wastelands and rugged mountains famous for adventure sports including mountaineering, trekking, river rafting, paragliding and motor and bike safaris.
Situated at altitudes ranging from 9,000-25,170ft, the winter temperatures drop to minus 20-40°C in the landlocked region thus making it an ideal region for ice hockey and ice skating. The Ladakh Winter Sports Club are responsible for promoting winter games in the region and grooming Ladakhi sportsmen for international competitions. The Indian team left Leh, the cultural capital of Ladakh, for Dubai on Wednesday and were seen off at Leh's Bakula airport by the Ladakh Hill Development Council's chief executive councillor Chering Dorje.
"It is a proud moment for Ladakh that ice hockey players from the region will represent the nation at the international event," he said, adding that he was hopeful of the team performing with distinction in the tournament, which starts on Sunday. The team have the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi to thank for their progress. A High Commission team visited Ladakh frequently to play matches with local groups, giving them the exposure they needed.
Such has been the enthusiasm for the sport that measures are underway to set up an ice hockey stadium in Leh. firstname.lastname@example.org