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Roohi Hamlani, the captain of the Dubai Gazelles ladies ice hockey team, is appealing for more players to get involved in the sport — of any age, gender or ability — ahead of the formation of a mixed C division.

Since the inception of The Gazelles team in 2011, they have been in discussions with The Abu Dhabi Storms — the UAE’s only other ladies ice hockey team — to create a local women’s league. However, there aren’t currently enough players or teams to support the format. Instead, they are planning to enter a mixed division this autumn, which in turn provides a feeder league for the already thriving men’s and junior leagues.

At present The Gazelles are limited to the occasional matches against The Storms and travel to overseas tournaments once or twice a year. However in order to improve, they need regular domestic matches.

“In terms of the women’s league, it’s really dicey because we just don’t have the volume of women to form an independent women’s league as yet,” said Roohi. “The C division isn’t necessarily a springboard to a women’s league but a way for those not quite at the level of the intermediate men’s leagues that already exist to be able to play competitive hockey,” she added.

“We could do with at least three ice rinks in Dubai, because of the sheer number of people interested in growing the sport locally,” said Hamlani. “This would allow us to emphasise kids, men’s and women’s hockey equally.

“There should be more of a spotlight on women’s hockey. This is an incredible sport that requires multiple and unique skills, develops fitness and camaraderie and lends itself perfectly to the vision within the UAE to empower women to lead dynamic, healthy and active lifestyles.”

Another perceived setback is the cost of equipment but Hamlani insists that a player could be fully kitted out for as little as Dh1,000 if one were to purchase second hand gear.

Dubai Gazelles’ training sessions are held twice a week at Dubai Mall on Monday and Wednesday from 8.30am until 9.45am and cost about Dh50 per session in advance for a term of 22 sessions, or Dh80 for a one-off session.

For those interested in taking up the challenge, contact Roohi Hamlani on 050-305-4502, or email rhamlani@gmail.com. You can also visit The Dubai Gazelles’ facebook page or website: http://dubaigazelles.com.


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