Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Another Dream Realized

The man to the left is former Washington Capitals sniper Peter Bondra. Bondra played for a couple other teams in his career, but he spent the vast majority of time in Washington, DC. The Slovak has done many great things over his career, but he's doing more for the international game now in his birthplace of Slovakia and in developing countries around the world. And while he suited up for Ottawa, Atlanta, and Chicago late in his career, he's still a proud member of the Capitals alumni and resides in Maryland with his wife when he's not on the ice!

One of the things Bondra does today is coach at clinics in some of the developing hockey nations. One such adventure took him to the United Arab Emirates where he spent some time coaching at a youth clinic in Abu Dhabi. One of the people he met there was a lady by the name of Fatima Al Ali who plays for the UAE national women's program, coaches in Abu Dhabi, and referees games around the city. Bondra was blown away by this young lady's dedication to the game, but he had no idea just how good Fatima was until she got a stick in her hands on the ice. Watch the video below!

Yeah, she's pretty darn incredible with a stick and puck considering where Abu Dhabi is located. Fatima could probably run clinics in Canada and no one would blink an eye based on her skills. She makes me look like I've never played the game before! She's amazing!

In the course of getting to know Fatima, Bondra discovered that her favorite player was Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin and her favorite team was the Washington Capitals. Bondra brought Fatima's story back to the Washington Capitals, resulting in the following video being recorded last week.
How cool is that? Fatima and a friend will be flown from Abu Dhabi to Washington DC where she's invited to attend a Washington Capitals game in February and meet the team including her idol Alexander Ovechkin. I said it yesterday with the Coyotes that more pro sports teams should reach out to their fans and communities with efforts like these, and I'm thrilled to see the Washington Capitals reaching around the world to give Fatima a chance to realize her dreams. That's exactly the kind of stuff pro sports teams should be doing with their wealth, and, as a Penguins fan, I have a whole new-found respect for the Capitals organization.

Hockey is for everyone. Fatima Al Ali is doing her part to make hockey a reality in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the Washington Capitals are making her dream a reality by reaching out to her. Peter Bondra and the Washington Capitals are doing their best to make hockey an international game.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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