Where EAST meets the Northwest
QATAR CURLERS. Hanan Al Boinin of Qatar, center, throws a stone during a
round-robin curling match against Japan at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, on
the northern island of Hokkaido. For the Qatar womenís curling team, just about
everything is a new experience. The fledgling curlers are doing their best to
get up to speed in the sport, but itís a huge challenge when one lives in a
desert. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
From The Asian Reporter, V27, #5 (March 6, 2017), page 5.
Desert to ice: Qatar takes on curling at Asian Winter Games
By Jim Armstrong
AP Sports Writer
SAPPORO, Japan ó For the Qatar womenís curling team, just about everything is
a new experience.
Curling, a sport that has links with medieval Scotland and is more suited to
the Canadian prairies, has taken a small foothold in the Middle East.
Just how new are Qatarís players to curling? Some of them in Japan for the
Asian Winter Games in Sapporo had never experienced snow before.
The fledgling curlers have done their best to get up to speed, but itís a
huge challenge when one lives in a desert. The Qatari women can train only one
day a week on ice that is not up to international standards.
Itís a tough road ahead. Qatar lost 1-17 to Japan in a preliminary round game
at Sapporo Curling Stadium.
"For now, we are training more to get experience and know more about the game
and its strategies," said skip Maryam Binali, who has been throwing stones for
just 11 months.
"We learned a lot from the Japanese team today because they are more
experienced but hopefully we will do well."
University student Binali said she likes the sense of teamwork.
Players in Qatar train on a public rink shared by figure skaters and ice
hockey players. There are only two ice rinks in Doha so ice time comes at a
Soccer is the most popular sport in Qatar but the country is looking to
broaden its sporting horizons ó even to winter sports.
The Qatari womenís team is coached by Hungarian Lajos Belleli, who is a
seven-time Hungarian champion.
"(Curling) is totally new and strange, a winter sport in one of the hottest
countries in the world," Belleli said. "Curling is totally new there so I have
to convince people that this will be good for them, which is not easy but a nice
So far there are just seven female players ó and 15 male curlers ó in Qatar,
which is the only country in the Middle East that has joined the World Curling
Qatar could take inspiration from Japan, a country that has rapidly developed
in the sport. Japanís womenís team is ranked sixth and won a silver medal in the
2016 world championships.
"We can play the sport anywhere and want to make it a truly global sport,"
said Kate Caithness, president of the World Curling Federation.
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