By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Kingdom of Bahrain is not known for the game Ice Hockey but the country has compete in 2011 Asian Winter Games and the 2012 Gulf ice Hockey Championships, despite not winning any games on the International stage, Bahrain has a real passion for the game.
We caught up with Tamar Fakroo Capitain of the Bahrain Sharks and we asked some question about hockey in his country.

Can you tell our viewers a little bit about yourself and how ice hockey got started in Bahrain?

I am a Bahraini puck head !

I was always fascinated by ice hockey since I was 5 years old because of the fact that a game is played on ice while I grew up in the middle east where sun and sand is everywhere, and always dreamed of playing Ice Hockey because it was my ultimate fancy sport. Until I became 16 and an ice rink was opened in Bahrain and I went there and started skating ( took my few days because I was always on roller blade and skate board) so balance sports was no problem for me, then went to the expats playing hockey and asked them id I can play, they gave me a chance and convinced them that I can be a good player and then joined the expats team and now am the captain of Bahrain Sharks one of the biggest teams in the Persian Gulf region.

What is the current state of ice hockey in the country?

Ice hockey in Bahrain is not as big as in the UAE ( over 500 players in UAE and 3 leagues plus women league) in Bahrain we play 3 on 3 because our ice rink is not official size, we have around 50 players here most of them from the US working in the US base in Bahrain. and the rest are Canadians and Europeans as well as 15 to 20 local players.

Is there any women’s hockey being played?

No, not yet- but UAE and Kuwait has women teams.

Is there a league if so how many clubs play in it?

Yes we have a 3 on 3 league, it is 4-6 teams ( 6- 8 players each team )

Bahrain does not have a Hockey Association or a Federation when do think this will happen?

We do have a hockey committee made of the old players in the team but there is not enough things to do about hockey in Bahrain. . . . For the time being !

Where does funding and sponsorship come from to run ice hockey in the country?

We used to get sponsorship from DHL Bahrain and few local companies to cover the ice time.

Is Bahrain going to enter a team for the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan?

Yes we hope so, we played in the last one in Kazakhstan 2011 and it was the first time for Bahrain to participate in winter Olympics.

Most of the Middle East countries are members of the IIHF, When do you think Bahrain will apply for membership?

We are working on it, but because ewe don’t have some of the requirments by IIHF we are going for associate membership then hopefully we will have a full size ice rink/ stadium arena to apply for the full membership.  

What needs to be to improve the game in Bahrain?

Coaching team I would say- the local players are very talented and dedicated but never played with a coach, and from my experience if we had a coach who can guide these boys Bahrain ice hockey will be in another level within the region.

Bahrain recently hosted the the Bahrain fire on ice hockey tournament, How did that go?

Bahrain Fire on Ice tournament has always been a success since we first started it in 2012 and till now, we started with 6 teams and since then teams are increasing every year this year we had to turn down couple of teams because we couldn’t host more than 10 teams, hopefully next year we will be 12 teams, This year we had the GCC region nationals only division as well as open division for all levels and nationalities.  

Who is your favorite hockey player and why?

My favorite ice hockey player was Ray Bourque because he was one of the greatest defense players, and lately Zdeno Chara we kind of look alike on the ice because of my height : ) and by the way am Huge Bruins fan, this article will give you and idea >>> http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/05/15/game-for-ages-stuns-even-bruins-faithful/0jwxYnnnWEC5Oa0ThjisoJ/story.html?event=event25

What was the best experience you had with the Bahrain National Team?

Playing in the Asian winter games in Kazakhstan 2011, and taking part in the opening ceremony.

Bahrain in action against the UAE at the 2012 Gulf Cup