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The Story of Ice Hockey in Abu Dhabi

Ice hockey is a sport recently introduced in the United Arab Emirates. Its beginning dates back to its proclamation and recognition in the United Arab Emirates in December 1998 A.D.

The story of ice hockey sport started upon the spread of the hobby of skiing among a number of youth in both cities of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain as well as the Emirate of Dubai. In fact, the availability of an ice rink in each city had a central role in the spread of the game. Increasingly exercising skiing, the youth expressed avid interest in learning more and shifting to the exercise of the ice hockey sport.


Another catalyst was the number of the foreign residents who were nationals of countries known for the ice hockey sport. They transferred the knowledge of the laws, conditions and skills of the game to those youth, which led to deeper interest in and attachment to this sport. Subsequently, an amateur team was formed in the city of Al Ain in 1990 A.D. Another amateur team of UAE nationals was formed in the city of Abu Dhabi in 1991 A.D. Soon, the first national team was formed under the name of the "UAE Ice Hockey Team". It participated in a number of Asian open championships. Though they received only limited support, they could place first in the first overseas participation of the team in Hong Kong Asian Championship in 1999 and second in 2000 A.D. in the same championship.

Such achievements had a considerable effect on the officials and stakeholders as Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al Nahyan sponsored those youth in the same year, joined them to Al-Wahda Football Club and provided them with professional trainers and high level, experienced players to increase contact and raise the level of the national players in such an attempt that shifted such a sport from just a hobby to well-organized institutional work. Two teams were formed: the first in 2000 under the name of "Al-Wahda Ice Hockey Team" and the second in 2001 in the city of Al Ain under the name of "Ghantoot Team". Both teams were subject to the management of Al-Wahda FC.


In 2004, the two teams' managerial and organizational supervision vested in Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club. Under its supervision, the two teams could make a number of achievements on the local, Asian and European levels, like placing first in the local league in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. The team could also place first in Malaysia Asian Team Championship and Asian Champion Club Tournament from 2001 to 2005, also first in Dubai International Championship 2001, second in Hong Kong Championship 2006, again first in the open international level in Bangkok Championship 2007 and first on the Asian level.


Since all the UAE Ice Hockey Team players are originally Ghantoot and Al-Wahda players, the UAE Ice Hockey Team could etch its name in this sport quite efficiently and powerfully on the regional, Asian and Arab and even international levels. The UAE Ice Hockey Federation took the initiative in holding and hosting the first Arab ice hockey championship in the city of Abu Dhabi in 2008 A.D. The UAE team could place first, which led to the rise of the ice hockey sport on the local level.


The increasing interest in the game and the rapid development of the UAE Ice Hockey Team's level had led the UAE Ice Hockey Federation to apply for hosting the AFC Challenge Cup, which Abu Dhabi hosted in 2009. The UAE team's win of the Asian Cup as a champion and organizer served as a turning point. Such a qualitative leap enabled the ice hockey sport to draw the attention of the local press to this achievement of a newborn and unique sport in the state and the region. In coronation of this victory, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed ordered the establishment of Abu Dhabi Ice Hockey Club under the aegis of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which later became Abu Dhabi Ice Sports Club, for the encouragement of the game and spreading it among the various classes of the society, including youth, school students and girls.


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