Fatima Al Ali: Balancing life as a photographer & ice hockey star

Denzil Pinto 15/05/2014
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Fatima Al Ali has only been playing ice hockey on a part-time basis for three years, but she has already represented the UAE ladies national team and recently won silver medal with her club Abu Dhabi Storms at the Hong Kong 5’s tournament.

With a job as a website administrator and photographer, the 24-year-old Emirati talked to Sport360° about her goals, why she wants to help promote ice hockey in the UAE, and why she would consider playing the sport on a full-time basis.

You finished second with Abu Dhabi Storms at the Hong Kong Hockey 5’s tournament last week. How did it feel to win the silver medal?

I am so proud because there were some strong sides in the competition. I scored five goals in the tournament which I was really pleased about. The matches were a bit tough and all the teams were of the same level, so we all had to work really hard to earn this second place. It was quite different to be playing outside the UAE but it was a good experience.

You played for the UAE national team in December. How did it feel to represent your country?

It’s always a pleasure to represent the UAE. I played in the Asian Cup in Hong Kong in December and the competition level was very high. For me it was a dream come true to play for my country and that was the highlight of my ice hockey career so far because that is everybody’s dream when they play any type of sport.

Did you learn a lot from the Asian Cup?

Most definitely. I learned from other team players on how they play. It will help me prepare better for future tournaments.

What is it you enjoy about playing ice hockey?

It’s really a challenging sport and there is just so much action that thrills me.

What made you play ice hockey?

I was the official photographer of the men’s UAE national team since 2008. The UAE ladies’ team was then launched in 2010 and I was keen to give the sport a try because it looked fun and competitive. So I started playing for Abu Dhabi Storms from 2011.

What’s your view on ice hockey in the UAE?

I don’t feel ice hockey gets enough support because it’s not popular as football or other sports in the UAE. I want to show people that ice hockey is being played in the UAE and the Middle East, and that ladies can achieve something in the sport.

Since playing ice hockey, do you feel the sport has started to grow in the UAE?

The sport is growing and a lot of ladies are aware of the sport and ready to play the game. However, we still need more ice rinks and more publicity to make the sport popular.

Being a centre forward, is that a difficult position to play in?

It is a little bit because in ice hockey you have to be moving around. Not only do I score the goals, I also have to play my part in helping the team defend so that is quite difficult. There is some pressure in scoring goals but I feel really happy when the puck hits the back of the net.

What’s your training regime?

I train twice a week at Abu Dhabi Ice Rink for four hours altogether. We practise our shooting, skating, defending – all the skills required for the sport. I also do a lot of running and other sporting activities outside the ice rink that helps me stay fit.

Are there any other sports you play?

Football and basketball because it keeps me fit for when I play ice hockey.

What are the goals you want to achieve?

I only have one major goal and that is to represent the UAE in a World Championship in the future.

You also work as a photographer as well as being a website administrator at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies sports academy in Abu Dhabi. Do you find it difficult to combine your job with ice hockey?

Not really. I’m quite organised with everything, so I don’t really have much trouble making time for both. My work does help me to fulfill my role for ice hockey when there are competitions.

Would you like to play ice hockey on a full-time basis in the future?

For sure yes. We only play part-time because there’s not much financial support, so we need a job to help. My family and friends have been very supportive and attend the games that I play. They certainly want me to continue playing the sport and I love ice hockey.

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Elegance on display at UAE Open Figure Skating Championships

Denzil Pinto 15/05/2014
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Get your skates on: The Championships will take place at Al Nasr Leisureland.

The annual UAE Open Figure Skating Championships take place at Al Nasr Leisureland in Dubai from today (Thursday) until Saturday, May 17, when over 100 skaters will take to the ice rink.

The competition has attracted skaters aged four to 45 years with teams from the UAE, Oman and Kuwait.

The UAE teams include Al Nasr Leisureland, Ice Stars Skating, Hyatt Galleria, Sharjah Women’s Club and Abu Dhabi.

The three-day event, open to spectators free of charge, will witness a sport that is already in the Olympic programme. The figure skaters will be of different levels – professional and amateur.

Some of them figure skate as a hobby, training once or twice a week, while others are professional and practice every day for several hours.

Spectators will see four categories: technical, artistic, spotlight, and step sequences, with the figure skaters performing their routines in front of independent judges.

Ice shows will be held on the sidelines of the competition making the event more spectacular and attractive for the spectators.

Larissa Zaplatinskaia, coach at Ice Stars Skating, said: “Figure skating is a combination of dance and sport and an elegant art that is pleasing to watch.

“It’s a very graceful and exciting sport.

“Many people may have heard of the sport but do not really know what it entails – it is a combination of dance and sport. And it’s very beautiful to watch from a spectator’s point of view.”

Among the figure skaters will be Amira Abdul Moati of Ice Stars Skating Club of the Dubai Ice Skating Academy. The 14-year-old will perform in three programmes: Mulan, Walking in Paris, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. This weekend’s event will be the second figure skating competition in a month. In April, Abu Dhabi Ice Rink Club hosted the Desert Open Figure Skating Championship that was won by the hosts. More than 100 people turned out for the two-day event in which Moati claimed two bronze medals and a fourth place finish. VENUE: Al Nasr Leisureland. WHAT: The UAE Open Figure Skating Championships. WHEN: From Thursday, May 15 to Saturday May, 17. Thursday from 17:30. Friday and Saturday from 10:00. Sport360 VERDICT: With around 100 figure skaters set to feature and the event open to the public for free, it’s an opportunity to witness a great sport that is combined with dancing. CONTACT: www.alnasrll.com

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Go with the flow at Wadi Adventure’s Glow and Go 5km Run

Denzil Pinto 14/05/2014
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Awesome: Wadi Adventure is a great place for you to take part in a fun run.

Wadi Adventure will host its first 5km Glow and Go run this month and organisers are inviting people to sign up before registration closes next Tuesday.

Taking place on Friday, May 23, at 20:00, it promises to be a run that will be full of fun, and it is something for everyone to enjoy with the run not timed.

Open to participants from 16 and over, the run offers something different from the traditional Wadi Adventure races that see people jump, crawl, climb and swim as they overcome obstacles to complete the course.

“We’ve seen a lot of great success in the previous editions of the Wadi Adventure races that we’ve held previously,” said Nora Hassan, sales and marketing manager at Wadi Adventure. “And we found there are some people who don’t participate in the Wadi Adventure races purely because it’s a bit of a challenge as it’s a 10km run.

“Usually it has a lot of obstacles and it’s quite intimidating so we wanted to have something that is more inclusive. Anyone with any fitness level can participate in this run. It’s enjoyable and a fun way of having a great time. It also promotes the initiative of having a healthy lifestyle.”

And with it being a run and not a race, where your finish doesn’t matter, it is entirely up to you whether you want to run, walk or jog the 5km course.

When you cross the finish line, you can cool down with a splash in the pool while dancing to tunes played by the DJ.

Entry costs Dh150 per person which also includes a t-shirt, glow items and refreshments. And while it is the first Glow and Go run, Hassan hopes this will be the start of many more at Wadi Adventure.

“As this is the first time we want to see how popular the run is,” said Hassan. “If it grows in popularity then maybe we can have another one. The most important thing is that people can enjoy as we want to promote the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle”.

“There’s no other event like this in the UAE. It gives people the opportunity to get their running shoes on and have a really good time.”

Registration closes on Tuesday May 20. To sign up visit www.premieronline.com.

What: Glow and Go 5km Run
Where: Wadi Adventure, Al Ain
When: Friday May 23
Contact: Register by visiting www.premieronline.com. For further information call 03 7818422

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