The Washington Capitals will be hosting the United Arab Emirates women’s national hockey team in Washington, DC from Saturday, Feb. 2 to Wednesday, Feb. 6, continuing a relationship that originally started in 2016.
During a coaching session in Abu Dhabi, Capitals legend Peter Bondra met super-talented hockey player Fatima Al Ali. Bondra shared video of Fatima’s mind-blowing stickhandling wizardry on Twitter. It went viral. The Capitals would surprise Fatima a month later with a trip to the United States to meet Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the team. Fatima’s skate with the team, the ceremonial puck drop, and selfies were all inspiring moments.
The Capitals’ support of Fatima and the rest of the UAE women’s hockey team has continued since then. This year, the women’s team, according to the Capitals, is “#comingbacktogiveback.”
Part of the news was originally announced by the Capitals PR on Wednesday as part of the team’s plans for Hockey Is For Everyone month.
On Monday, the UAE women’s hockey team will host a skate with Ann Schaab and the rest of the American Special Hockey Association at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. Afterward, the women’s team will announce a gift to Special Hockey.
“I find it significant that two groups of people – women from UAE and individuals with disabilities here in US, each who perhaps didn’t always have access to hockey in the past or were marginalized for differing reasons, are coming together and sharing their love of the sport and showing the world that they can play,” Melissa Schaab, Ann’s mom, said in an interview. ” And of course, I personally love that these are two groups – UAE women’s team and ASHA players- that Ovi and the Caps have totally embraced and shined a spotlight on in the past.
“The Washington Ice Dogs have five girl players who along with other ASHA girls are so excited to meet women hockey players from so far away in the world and to share their love of hockey,” Melissa continued. “We are so grateful to the UAE women’s hockey team for graciously including the ASHA players in their practice plans and reminding the world that every girl can play hockey.”
During their time in the area, the UAE women’s hockey team will hold their practices at the Capitals training facility and attend the team’s game against the Vancouver Canucks on February 5.
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In conjunction with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates and Etihad Airways, the Washington Capitals will host the United Arab Emirates Women’s National Hockey Team in Washington, D.C., from Saturday, Feb. 2 to Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Following their visit to hockey communities in the US and Canada last year, the national team is #comingbacktogiveback. On Monday, Feb. 4, the team will host a workshop with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. The team will also announce a gift to ASHA that will advance its mission to make hockey more accessible to athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The UAE Women’s National Team and ASHA players will also attend the Capitals game versus the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 5.
The visit is part of a special UAE delegation to the United States that will also include activities with the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins after their time in D.C. ASHA Executive Director Jennifer O’Brien will accompany the women’s national team to New York and Boston, where they will conduct additional workshops with local ASHA athletes.
During the 2016-17 season, the Capitals relationship with the team developed when Capitals alumnus Peter Bondra met team member Fatima Al Ali while in Abu Dhabi hosting a youth hockey clinic. After noticing her stickhandling, the Capitals and Etihad Airways surprised Al Ali with an invitation to Washington.
Last season, Al Ali returned with the entire team as part of a special delegation to the United States and Canada. In June, Al Ali returned to Washington D.C. and participated in the 2018 Stanley Cup Championship parade.
The team will conduct practices at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, spend time sightseeing, visit the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, attend a Washington Wizards game, and volunteer at Children’s National Medical Center.
The team’s visit supports Hockey is for Everyone (HIFE), a league-wide initiative dedicated to celebrating grassroots hockey and the game’s growing diversity. The program offers people of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey and leverages the sport as a catalyst to teach essential life skills and the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.
As the exclusive airline partner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, and Capital One Arena, Etihad Airways works collaboratively with MSE on several community initiatives to promote and celebrate the international nature of sport in Washington, D.C., Abu Dhabi and throughout the world.
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