By Sports Reporter/Doha
Ice hockey and the desert may seem opposite ends of the spectrum but they will come together for the 9th annual CNA-Q Desert Cup tournament. From February 27 to March 1, teams from around the Middle East will come to Doha for the event.
Teams from Gulf Co-operation Council nations will be represented, bringing in a mix of players from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and Germany. Admission to the games is free.
The Qatari National team - known as ‘Qatar Oryx’ - will be participating in the tournament.
Though Qataris are more accustomed to kicking footballs than slapping pucks, the sport has a good following in the country. The Qatar Ice Hockey Federation was formed in 2010 with the goal of one day qualifying for the Asian Games. The International Ice Hockey Federation welcomed Qatar into the organization in 2012.
Doha also boasts of the Qatar International Ice Hockey League(QIIHL), which has kept expat and local hockey lovers happy for the past decade. Played on the Gondolania Ice Rink in Villaggio Mall, the QIIHL provides high-octane action to curious onlookers every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday.
Hockey’s spread in Doha is surely guaranteed as many players volunteer twice a week to coach youngsters of all ages and sizes in the Qatar Minor Ice Hockey Association. Training children aged 5-17, the programme boasts of more than 100 young skaters from around the globe.
Qatar-based College of the North Atlantic (CNA-Q) is a main sponsor of ice hockey in the country, supporting both adult and children’s leagues for years. CNA-Q has roots in the ice hockey-crazy Canada and recognises the importance of growing the sport, including by showcasing The Desert Cup to an international audience.
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