For the past several years, the sport of hockey has dominated our household. With Dan playing on two recreational teams in Calgary, and the three boys in minor hockey, it seemed inevitable that any kind of international move would seriously cramp our style. But, with all the criteria that I put forth to my husband on condition of a move, hockey was one on which he was unexpectedly able to deliver.
Doha has a small but well-run minor hockey program. In each age division there are two reasonably evenly-matched teams that play each other. When we learned that Dubai was hosting a U9 tournament, we quickly booked our flights, knowing that it would give Jacob an opportunity to play against a different group of kids. However, there weren't enough families interested in travel for this particular age group, so we decided to go ahead and have Jacob play with one of the other participating teams.
The real driver behind our desire to go to Dubai was to visit with the family of one of Jacob's former classmates and fellow Westwood Warrior. We were excited at the prospect of having Sam and Jacob play against each other in either of our current locations. But when the numbers shook out, and all the extra kids were placed on teams, Jacob played for Al Ain (one of the Emirates in the UAE), and Sam graciously decided to forego playing with his own Dubai team to join Jacob.
The tournament was held at Al Nasr arena, which is disturbingly similar to West Hillhurst Arena in Calgary. It was actually a little surreal to sit beside Jennifer and Guy and watch our boys on the ice! The boys played great all weekend, with Sam getting a two-point game on his first outing and Jacob playing a solid defensive game. After five games, Al Ain got the third place medal in this five-team tournament, and the boys wore their medals proudly.
All told, it was a great weekend. Despite spending two and a half hours at Passport Control in Dubai getting our visas and eye-scans* (after a mere 45-minute flight), we made it to the restaurant Thursday night in time to join our friends for ribs and beer. Guy and Jennifer hosted us to a wonderful dinner on Friday, and Jacob to a sleepover. Can't wait until it's our turn to host a tournament in Doha!
*Blogger's note: Perhaps I'll write more on the visa issue for Canadians travelling to the UAE another time. Meantime, if you could all contact your local MP and have him/her pass on a message to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, we would really appreciate it! We need him to sooth the bruised egos of Emirati officials who are a little miffed at Canada.