Hockey Diplomacy

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From February 2-13, 2019, the UAE Women’s National Hockey Team is coming back to give back. After a successful tour of North America in 2018, the team is returning to the US to give back to the communities they visit by supporting organizations that provide access to hockey for players of all ages and abilities. In Washington, DC, New York and Boston, the players will partner with the American Special Hockey Association to host clinics for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

During the team’s February 2018 visit as part of the National Hockey League’s ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ month, they met with professional and local hockey teams, government officials and community leaders in Washington, DC, Chicago and Ottawa. Through these sports exchanges, Emirati, American and Canadian players increased cultural understanding, broke down stereotypes and created lasting friendships.

The UAE Women’s National Hockey Team began its 2018 trip in Washington, DC, where the players participated in a ceremonial puck drop at the Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Game. The UAE team practiced with the Capitals and scrimmaged with the Washington Pride, a local women’s club. Off the ice, the team met with members of Congress, US government officials and Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba to discuss how sports dispels cultural misperceptions and builds bridges between people from different backgrounds.

The team then stopped in Chicago and attended the Blackhawks’ game against the Anaheim Ducks. At the game, the squad celebrated ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ month alongside the US Paralympics Sled Team. The UAE players also partnered with the Inner-City Education Program to host a hockey clinic at the MB Ice Arena for local youth.

The team concluded its 2018 trip in Ottawa, where they practiced with a local women’s club – the Kanata Rangers – and watched the Ottawa Senators take on the New York Rangers. The players were greeted by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson as they skated on the Rink of Dreams outside City Hall. The UAE Embassy in Ottawa hosted the players for dinner and a conversation about their roles as athletes and cultural ambassadors.