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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 July 2018

Hamad Al Qubaisi calls on investors to help build ice rink on Yas Island

UAE Ice Sports Federation vice-president sends open invitation at conclusion of women's Gulf Clubs Cup at Zayed Sports City

Abu Dhabi Storms beat Al Ain Theebs 9-2 at the inaugural women's Gulf Clubs Cup at Zayed Sports City on Saturday. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Abu Dhabi Storms beat Al Ain Theebs 9-2 at the inaugural women's Gulf Clubs Cup at Zayed Sports City on Saturday. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Hamad Al Qubaisi, vice-president of the UAE Ice Sports Federation, has appealed to investors to come forward and help build an ice rink in Abu Dhabi.

With the demand for ice skating and ice hockey on the rise in the country, Al Qubaisi said investment in the construction of the rink - believed to be on Yas Island - would fetch “rewarding returns” for the stakeholders.

“The Abu Dhabi government has allocated the land in a prime location," he said, "and we are inviting businessmen and investors to talk to us if they want to know more about this exciting new project."

Al Qubaisi made these comments at the conclusion of the inaugural Gulf Clubs Cup women's tournament, which Abu Dhabi Storms won by beating Al Ain Theebs 9-2 at Zayed Sports City on Saturday.

According to him, the lack of ice time was slowing down the progress the sport was making across the country.

“There is a big demand for ice time, with more and more people joining in ice sports,” Al Qubaisi said, while pointing out that there were just three Olympic-size ice rinks in the country - in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and at Dubai Mall - thereby forcing them to juggle event schedules.

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Our ice hockey coverage:

Amith Passela: UAE's ice queen Fatima Al Ali dreams of refereeing at Olympics

Shireena Al Nowais: Emirati women make great strides in sports participation

Female athletes to inspire younger generations at the Abu Dhabi conference

Female athletes share their stories ahead of Abu Dhabi sports conference

National Editorial: A level playing field for women athletes is the end goal

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Meanwhile, moments after leading the Storms to the title, national women's team captain Fatima Al Qubaisi said the Gulf Clubs Cup, which also featured Team Kuwait and Dubai Gazelles, marked a new beginning for the sport in the region.

In the final, Fatima Al Mazrouie scored a hat-trick, while Fatima Al Ali (2), Lateefa Al Suwaidi (2), Khulood Shuja and Dana Al Hosani (1 each) got into the scoresheet for the Storms. Jiho Dyoun and Mariam Al Ameri were on target for Theebs.

“Women’s ice hockey is in the infancy stage, but I believe it is fast developing and tournaments like these will encourage more women not only in the UAE but across the region to join the sport,” Al Qubaisi said.

Indeed, Hamad Al Qubaisi expected more teams from the Arabian Gulf and other Arab countries to join the competition.

“The Kuwait federation, after their team’s participation, are already planning to host the next edition," he said. "So there are a lot of positives to be taken from this start,” he said.

The national women's team have been in the news lately, and for good reason.

During their visit to the United States in February to attend a camp, they were invited to an NHL game. Standing before nearly 18,000 fans at the Capital One Arena, Al Qubaisi performed a ceremonial puck drop to inaugurate the game between the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Al Qubaisi described the moment as "an amazing experience" which she said was "a wonderful advertisement for women’s hockey in the UAE".

A month later, they did well to finish runner-up behind Malaysia in the Challenge Cup of Asia Division 1 at Kuala Lumpur.

“The women’s national team was established in 2010 and we - me included - are the first crop of Emirati players to compete in tournaments," Al Qubaisi said.

“Our federation has already started on kids and youth programmes, and we expect the numbers to increase. We are hopeful building the next generation of players to take the sport forward.”