By Mohammed Taha – Muscat Daily

In a historic development, the first Omani women’s national ice hockey team was unveiled on Thursday at FunZone in Muscat. This landmark moment is the result of years of dedication of officials and relentless determination of the team members who defied all odds and challenges to pursue their passion.

Present at the team launch was H H Sayyida Hujaija Jaifer al Said.

Overjoyed at the momentous occasion, Sharifa Ali al Aufi, Secretary of Oman Skating Sports Committee, told Muscat Daily, “There’s immense confidence and belief in this team. I’m elated that we can represent Oman and am part of this pioneering initiative.”

Sharifa envisions the team making Oman proud on the international stage, with aspirations of competing in the Women’s Ice Hockey World Cup someday. Sharing how formation of the team began in 2021, she informed that the effort was spearheaded by Saud Nasser al Aufi, Training and Development Manager of Oman Skating Sports Committee. The initiative began with selection of just four players.

After rigorous training and friendly matches in the sultanate, the team recently underwent further conditioning in Kuwait. Its mettle will soon be tested in an international tournament in the UAE being held from September 5 to 9.

“We stand steadfastly with our team, especially as it debuts in the UAE championship. It will be competing against teams from Mexico, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE,” Aufi informed.

However, the journey hasn’t been without challenges. Highlighting the lack of adequate training facilities in the sultanate, Aufi said, “We have only three small stadiums, none of Olympic standards.”

Additionally, lack of equipment and financial constraints posed hurdles. Having overcome all challenges, the team now has 28 dedicated players.

With a national team now formed, Aufi has his eye set on setting up more teams across the sultanate’s wilayats to popularise the sport. “To encourage more youth to embrace the sport, and host Arab, Asian and global tournaments, we need Olympic-standard ice hockey facilities.”

He extended his gratitude to FunZone and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, saying, “Their unwavering support enabled us to meet the challenge and establish the national team. Kudos also to the families of our players for their immense support.”

He wished the team success in its international debut later this week.