Kuwait women's national ice hockey team to make international debut in Bangkok

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Pioneers: Kuwait's women's hockey team.

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 or with their hair hastily tied in topknots pull on their helmets before taking to the rink in the Kuwaiti capital — where temperatures top 40 degrees Celsius on a sunny October afternoon.

“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 an event in Bangkok, according to the state-run 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. For now, they still rent the ice rink in a state-run ski lounge.

“We need facilities dedicated to training women to convince families that that their daughters need to be involved in sports,” said Sheikha Naima Al-Sabah, president of the Kuwaiti Women’s Sports Authority.

“We initially faced some resistance due to social traditions, but the culture of women in sports is spreading and we’re not regular faces at Asian tournaments,” she told AFP.

“So we are progressing, but slowly, because some of our girls immediately marry at a certain age — or because they choose to wear hijab in a world where you’re not allowed into certain sports if you choose to wear hijab”.

International basketball governing body FIBA in May rescinded a ban on hijab and other forms of religious headcovers, which on the grounds that they could potentially fall off and pose a risk to players.

But with its oversized jerseys, shin guards and helmets, hockey is a good fit for many of the Kuwaiti national team players.

“As you see, the uniform totally covers everything,” said team player Khaleda Abdel Karim during a break in practice.

“So I personally find no difficulties at all in that sense,” she smiled, adding that the team had received strong support from both Kuwait’s government and the public.

Despite the warm welcome the team has received, the women are still fighting to both secure the best for their athletes — and to overcome culture challenges both at home and abroad.

“In order to get the best results, you need to be given the best training,” said Sheikha Naima of the sports authority.

“What we need are good coaches, professional trainers. I don’t want… just any coach for my girls”.


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FINA World Championships: From Egypt's Farida Osman to UAE's Yaaqoub Al Saadi, full Arab swimmers' schedule

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Former junior world champion: Farida Osman of Egypt.

The 17th FINA World Championships is underway in Budapest with the swimming competition kicking off on Sunday July 23 and lasting for a week.

Almost all Arab countries – barring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – will be represented in the pool in the Hungarian capital with Egypt’s Farida Osman and Ahmed Akram leading the pack as two of the medal contenders.

The UAE’s Yaaqoub Al Saadi will feature in the backstroke events while 11 Arab swimmers will line-up for the men’s 100m freestyle preliminaries.

Tunisian star Oussama Mellouli, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, announced his withdrawal from the Championships earlier this month due to an injury sustained during training.

Here’s the full provisional schedule of events for all Arab athletes taking part in Budapest next week.

Results will be updated as competition progresses.

Men’s 400m freestyle – July 23

Khader Baqlah – Jordan (placed 32nd overall, won his heat, clocked 3:54.13)

Marwan El Kamash – Egypt (placed ninth overall, fifth in his heat, clocked national record 3:46.36)

Abdalla Aboughazala – Qatar (placed 51st overall, third in his heat, clocked 4:20.64)

Jordan's Khader Baqlah.

Jordan’s Khader Baqlah.

Women’s 100m butterfly – July 23

Farida Osman – Egypt (placed 17th overall, seventh in her heat, clocked 58.67)

Yusra Mardini – Syrian refugee swimming under FINA flag (41st overall, third in her heat, clocked 1:07.99)

Lara Aklouk – Jordan (placed 44th overall, fifth in her heat, clocked 1:09.37)

Women’s 400m freestyle – July 23

Hania Moro – Egypt (placed 28th overall, ninth in her heat, clocked 4:21.67)

Gabriella Doueihy – Lebanon (placed 30th overall, first in her heat, clocked 4:25.34)

Men’s 50m butterfly – July 23

Nazim Belkhodja – Algeria (placed 55th overall, 10th in his heat, clocked 25.43)

Omar Eissa – Egypt (placed 35th overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 24.43)

Abdullah Al-Doori – Iraq (placed 60th overall, first in his heat, clocked 26.28)

Anthony Barbar – Lebanon (placed 50th overall, eighth in his heat, clocked 25.17)

Yaaqoub Al Saadi – UAE (did not start)

Men’s 4x100m freestyle – July 23

Egypt (placed 15th overall, eighth in heat, clocked 3:18.23)

Women’s 200m medley – July 23

Nooran Ba Matraf – Yemen (placed 36th overall, sixth in her heat, clocked 2:37.21)

Men’s 100m breaststroke – July 23

Youssef El Kamash – Egypt (placed 33rd overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 1:01.81)

Amro Al Wir – Jordan (placed 61st overall, second in his heat, clocked 1:05.70)

Abdulmalik ben Musa – Libya (71st overall, seventh in his heat, clocked 1:12.00)

Azad Al Barazi – Syria (placed 42nd overall, ninth in his heat, clocked 1:02.26)

Wassim Elloumi – Tunisia (Did not start)

4 days till showtime! 💪🏼🇪🇬 #teamEgy #budapest2017

A post shared by Farida Osman (@farida_osman) on

Women’s 1,500m freestyle – July 24

Souad Cherouati – Algeria (placed 22nd overall among 22 swimmers, last in her heat, clocked 17:25.00)

Men’s 200m freestyle heats – July 24

Marwan El Kamash – Egypt (tied 16th overall, first in his heat, clocked new national record 1:47.40, wins swim-off and reaches semi-finals)

Khader Baqlah – Jordan (19th overall, second in his heat, clocked 1:47.68)

Mokhtar Al Yamani – Yemen (placed 40th overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 1:49.87)

Mohamed Mehdi Lagili – Tunisia (placed 45th overall, fifth in his heat, clocked 1:50.33)

Yacob Al-Khulaifi – Qatar (placed 66th overall, second in his heat, clocked 1:58.32)

Men’s 200m freestyle semi-finals – July 24

Marwan El Kamash – (placed 16th overall, eighth in his semi, clocked 1:47.41)

Women’s 100m breaststroke – July 24

Honia Ibrahim – Iraq (placed 44th overall, second in her heat, clocked 1:17.48)

Women’s 100m backstroke – July 24

Jennifer Rizkallah – Lebanon (52nd overall, third in her heat, clocked 1:10.36)

Hiba Fahzi – Morocco (46th overall, sixth in her heat, clocked 1:06.08)

Nooran Ba Matraf – Yemen (54th overall, fifth in her heat, clocked 1:12.38)

Men’s 100m backstroke – July 24

Mehdi Benbara – Algeria (37th overall, first in his heat, clocked 57.59)

Youssef Abdalla – Egypt (24th overall, eighth in his heat, clocked 55.60)

Adel Elfakir – Libya (38th overall, second in his heat, clocked 58.48)

Driss Lahrichi – Morocco (36th overall, sixth in his heat, clocked 57.46)

Yaaqoub Al Saadi – UAE (did not start)

Men’s 50m breaststroke – July 25

Youssef El Kamash – Egypt (27th overall, ninth in his heat, clocked 27.79)

Abdulmalik ben Musa – Libya (72nd overall, second in his heat, clocked 32.92)

Anthony Souaiby – Lebanon (65th overall, third in his heat, clocked 30.84)

Azad Al Barazi – Syria (36th overall, sixth in his heat, clocked 28.13)

Wassim Elloumi – Tunisia (did not start)

Ebrahim Al-Maleki – Yemen (80th overall, seventh in his heat, clocked 38.98)

Men’s 200m butterfly – July 25

Ayman Kelzi – Syria (32nd overall, fourth in his heat, 2:01.44)

Rami Anis – Syrian refugee, competing under FINA flag (40th overall, second in his heat, clocked 2:06.02)

Egypt's Ahmed Akram.

Egypt’s Ahmed Akram.

Men’s 800m freestyle – July 25

Ahmed Akram – Egypt (ninth overall, fifth in his heat, 7:51.41)

Men’s 100m freestyle heats – July 26

Oussama Sahnoune fact file

  • Born: August 2, 1992
  • Silver medalist at 2012 African Championship (50 free, 50 fly)
  • 25th place - 50 free - Rio Olympics 2016
  • 31st place - 100 free - Rio Olympics 2016

Oussama Sahnoune – Algeria (14th overall, second in his heat, qualified to semi-finals, clocked 48.75)

Mohamed Samy – Egypt (32nd overall, first in his heat, clocked 49.42)

Mokhtar Al Yamani – Yemen (61st overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 51.19)

Mohammed Bedour – Jordan (71st overall, 10th in his heat, clocked 52.68)

Farhan Farhan – Bahrain (73rd overall, second in his heat, clocked 52.83)

Adel Elfakir – Libya (74th overall, 10th in his heat, clocked 53.00)

Bakr Al-Dulaimi – Iraq (75th overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 53.12)

Souhail Hamouchane – Morocco (77th overall, fifth in his heat, clocked 53.52)

Anthony Souaiby – Lebanon (78th overall, first in his heat, clocked 53.62)

Abdalla Aboughazala – Qatar (88th overall, first in his heat, clocked 55.67)

Nabeel Hatoum – Palestine (92nd overall, fourth in his heat, clocked 56.08)

Men’s 100m freestyle semi-finals – July 26

Oussama Sahnoune – Algeria (ninth overall, fifth in his heat, clocked 48.33)

Women’s 200m butterfly – July 26

Lara Aklouk – Jordan (34th overall, fourth in her heat, clocked 2:32.35)

Men’s 200 medley – July 26

Mohamed Khaled Hussein – Egypt (17th overall, fifth in his heat, clocked 2:00.68)

Abdul Rahman Al Kulaibi – Oman (43rd overall, third in his heat, clocked 2:19.06)

Women’s 50m backstroke – July 26

Hiba Fahsi – Morocco (48th overall, seventh in her heat, clocked 30.75)

Jennifer Rizkallah – Lebanon (54th overall, 10th in her heat, clocked 31.65)

Mixed 4x100m medley relay – July 26

Egypt (did not start)

Syria's Bayan Jumah.

Syria’s Bayan Jumah.

Women’s 100m freestyle – July 27

Farida Osman – Egypt

Talita Baqlah – Jordan

Bayan Jumah – Syria

Men’s 200m breaststroke – July 27

Youssef El Kamash – Egypt

Amro Al-Wir – Jordan

Wassim Elloumi – Tunisia

Women’s 200m breaststroke – July 27

Honia Ibrahim – Iraq

Women’s 800m freestyle – July 28

Souad Cherouati – Algeria

Hania Moro – Egypt

Gabriella Doueihy – Lebanon

Egypt's Ali Khalafalla.

Egypt’s Ali Khalafalla.

Men’s 50m freestyle – July 28

Oussama Sahnoune – Algeria

Farhan Farhan – Bahrain

Ali Khalafalla – Egypt

Bakr Al-Dulaimi – Iraq

Mohammed Bedour – Jordan

Anthony Barbar – Lebanon

Souhail Hamouchane – Morocco

Loiy Juwaihan – Palestine

Men’s 100m butterfly – July 28

Omar Eissa – Egypt

Abdullah Al-Doori – Iraq

Yacob Al-Khulaifi – Qatar

Ayman Kelzi – Syria

Women’s 50m butterfly – July 28

Ritaj Amin – Bahrain

Farida Osman – Egypt

Talita Baqlah – Jordan

Men’s 4x200m freestyle relay – July 28

Egypt

Tunisia

Men’s 1,500m freestyle – July 29

Ahmed Akram – Egypt

Women’s 50m freestyle – July 29

Ritaj Amin – Bahrain

Farida Osman – Egypt

Dara Al-Bakry – Jordan

Salie Al Atrash – Palestine

Bayan Jumah – Syria

Men’s 50m backstroke – July 29

Mehdi Benbara – Algeria

Mohamed Samy – Egypt

Driss Lahrichi – Morocco

Nabeel Hatoum – Palestine

Ebrahim Al-Maleki – Yemen

Mixed 4x100m freestyle relay – July 29

Algeria

Egypt

Iraq

Jordan

Men’s 400m medley – July 30

Ahmed Hamdy – Egypt

Men’s 4x100m medley relay – July 30

Egypt

Women’s 4x100m medley relay – July 30

Algeria

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Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Omar Abdulrahman feature in our best Arab XI

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Following Mohamed Salah’s move to Liverpool, Sport360 have put together a Best current Arab XI.

Do you agree with our team? Who do you think should’ve been in the XI?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below or using #360fans across social media.

ALI AL HABSI (2015- Reading)

The Omani has the most number of appearances as a goalkeeper in the Gulf Cup playing in four consecutive tournaments – and earning the award as best number one in each edition.

His crowning moment came in 2009 when he guided Oman to a first Gulf Cup title, keeping a clean sheet in every match in the process.

Ali Al Habsi.

Ali Al Habsi.

FAOUZI GHOULAM (2014- Napoli)

Epitomising the voracious work-rate in the Napoli team, Ghoulam’s 87% pass completion rate in the Serie A this season is just one sign of his dependability, while his ability to barrel forward has helped make him arguably the best left-back in the league.

Faouzi Ghoulam.

Faouzi Ghoulam.

MEDHI BENATIA (2017- Juventus)

The Moroccan has well and truly become a boon in this Juventus side since signing at the beginning of last season. A class act on and off the ball.

Medhi Benatia.

Medhi Benatia.

AISSA MANDI (2016- Real Betis)

Perhaps the unsung hero in a star-studded Arab line-up.

The 25-year-old Algerian is a consistently excellent presence going forward and offers vital support for Sofiane Hanni at defensive midfield.

Aissa Mandi.

Aissa Mandi.

ZOUHAIR FEDDAL (2016- Alaves)

When at his combative best, the Moroccan is difficult to stop and presents himself effectively in both attack and defence.

He made 26 appearances for Alaves last season, attempting to inject pace into an attack that lacked goals and ability.

Zouhair Feddal.

Zouhair Feddal.

NABIL BENTALEB (2017- Schalke)

The former Tottenham Hotspur player has revitalized his career since joining Schalke on loan last season.

His two goal haul against Mainz made him the first Algerian to achieve this feat in the Bundesliga.

One half of our Arab XI’s box-to-box midfield duo, Bentaleb’s energy and influence knows no bounds.

Nabil Bentaleb.

Nabil Bentaleb.

SOFIANE HANNI (2016- Anderlecht)

Offers real leadership in midfield and has been Anderlecht’s key player over the last two seasons.

One of the most intelligent players on the field, the Algerian often makes the sublime seem simple.

Sofiane Hanni.

Sofiane Hanni.

HAKIM ZIYECH (2016- Ajax)

Provides the team with a shot of adrenaline every time he touches the ball.

The Ajax star has scored 11 goals and provided 16 assists in 45 games in all competitions this season.

Hakim Ziyech.

Hakim Ziyech.

OMAR ABDULRAHMAN (2008- Al Ain)

The reigning AFC Player of the Year is a vital cog in Al Ain and the UAE’s attack.

Persistent running on and off the ball make the Emirati livewire a real nuisance for opposition defenders.

He scored six goals and provided ten assists in 22 Arabian Gulf League games this season.

Omar Abdulrahman.

Omar Abdulrahman.

RIYAD MAHREZ (2014- Leicester City)

The former African Footballer of the Year was an inspirational presence in Leicester City’s Premier League triumph in 2016.

He has a formidable goalscoring ability, having netted 17 times during the Foxes title winning campaign under Claudio Ranieri.

Riyad Mahrez.

Riyad Mahrez.

MOHAMED SALAH (2017- Liverpool)

Completing the most terrifying attacking triumvirate in Arab football is new Liverpool signing Salah.

Always produces a high calibre display, especially for Egypt where he has been a constant thorn for the Pharaohs since making his debut in 2011.

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