A new goal for Emirati hockey

As the climax of the Olympic hockey competition approaches, with the medal matches on Thursday and Friday, excitement is also growing in the UAE where the sport has an increasingly bright future, as Will Jones reports

With the knockout stages of a top-quality competition under way at the Olympic Hockey Centre, these are exciting times for hockey fans in Rio de Janeiro. However, they’re also exciting times for hockey fans in the UAE. Long a favourite with expatriates in Dubai, the sport is about to get a huge boost with the arrival of the worldwide governing body.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced earlier this year that it would open a regional office in Dubai. Following in the footsteps of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and golf’s European Tour, both of which have bases in the city, the FIH is hoping to benefit from Dubai’s plum location and terrific facilities as it continues to grow the sport around the world.

Dubai’s world-class sporting facilities, events infrastructure and global connectivity all contribute to the city’s growing reputation as a home for international sport

Leandro Negre, The International Hockey Federation (FIH)

The news follows on from the FIH’s announcement last year that the 45th FIH Congress, a major annual gathering and one of the most important events in the hockey calendar, will take place in Dubai from 8 to 13 November this year. More than 300 delegates from over 80 countries will be descending on Dubai to discuss the FIH’s Hockey Revolution, the FIH’s 10-year strategy to raise the profile of the game.

“Dubai’s world-class sporting facilities, events infrastructure and global connectivity all contribute to the city’s growing reputation as a home for international sport,” said Leandro Negre, the FIH President. “For the FIH, deciding to place representatives in Dubai, sitting at the crossroads of the world and at the centre of hockey’s key markets, makes perfect sense.”

From Dubai Hockey Club, which has members from more than 15 countries, to the kids aged 4-16 who are learning the game at Dubai Youth Hockey, the sport has many fans in the UAE. As Ismail Ali Abdulla Al Banna, President of the UAE Hockey Federation, has said: “There is huge potential to grow the sport of hockey in the UAE and across the Middle East region.” The future looks bright.

The Olympic hockey competitions continue until Friday, August 19