Kuwait ‘ice ladies’ lace up for world hockey

KUWAIT CITY: In their red, white and blue uniforms, Kuwait’s first female ice hockey team is training hard in the desert ahead of their debut world tournament later this month.
Affectionately dubbed the “ice ladies” by local media, athletes in hijab pull on their helmets before taking to the rink in the Kuwaiti capital — where temperatures top 40 degrees Celsius.
“It’s totally new, girls playing this sort of demanding sport here in Kuwait and in the Gulf, but it goes to show that in sports there is truly no difference between men and women,” said team player Bahar al Harban.
Women on ice have grabbed headlines in the Gulf this year, with UAE national Zahra Lari gaining popularity on social media — and through a Nike campaign in the Middle East — as the Emirates’ first female figure skater and the first international figure skater to compete in hijab.
Kuwait’s women’s ice hockey team will play their first international game on October 30 at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Bangkok, according to Kuna news agency.
Fifty-six Kuwaiti women between the ages of 15 and 30 are now the proud owners of team jerseys emblazoned with their names on the back — some of them mothers who frequently bring their children to training.
But while the athletes have the support of their teammates and, increasingly, of their communities, what they lack is their own training facility.
“We need facilities dedicated to training women to convince families that their daughters need to be involved in sports,” said Sheikha Naima al Sabah, President of the Kuwaiti Women’s Sports Authority. — AFP