All Smiles with the UAE National Women's Team
United Arab Emirates Women’s Hockey Grows the Game
These women have a dream of one day participating in one of the most elite athletic spaces a hockey team can reach: the Olympics. By working on their game and expanding the popularity of the sport, they just may be able to do it. Currently, they are acting as hockey ambassadors and are letting the world know who they are. The team hopes to one day be on the ice, instead of just watching it.
The NHL has been taking major steps towards increasing diversity in the sport of hockey, with their Hockey is for Everyone campaign. The campaign encourages acceptance of all players, no matter gender, sexuality, or religion. As a part of the Hockey is for Everyone campaign, the UAE women’s team was invited to drop the ceremonial first puck at the Washington Capitals game.
Their captain, Fatima Al Ali, had a video of her stickhandling go viral last year. This video put the spotlight on the team, who have since traveled to North America, Europe and Australia to held the growth of the game. Not only did this international attention give the team opportunities to grow the game elsewhere, but it has also had a major impact within their own country, gaining ten to fifteen new players in the past year. Because of the team’s work, the acceptance of women playing a sport like hockey has grown exponentially as well.
Mariam Al Ameri, a right-winger, still cannot believe the impact that her team has had on the world and within her own country. She told The Washington Post, “We’re hockey players somewhere in the middle of the desert. And not only that—we’re women playing hockey. So it makes me proud that women from my country are setting a goal of becoming hockey players and are not only achieving it but are getting something as great as this out of it.”