What’s On teams up with Hype to meet the president of the Dubai Mighty Camels, a big player in amateur ice hockey in Dubai. Learn more.

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Our pals at Hype meet Mike Freeson, president of Dubai Mighty Camels, to discover more about the flourishing ice hockey scene in the region…

Where are you from? Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.

When did you come to Dubai? In August 2010.

What do you do here? I’m a high school teacher and coach at Dubai American Academy, and president of Dubai Mighty Camels men’s ice hockey league.

When did you first start playing ice hockey? Being from Canada, it’s not unusual that I started skating when I was around three, and I was playing organised ice hockey by the time I was six. It’s a part of our culture, really. So it would have been weird if I hadn’t wanted to start playing.

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When was the Dubai Mighty Camels ice hockey league set up? It actually started in 1994, so we’re in our 20th anniversary this year. It was set up by a group of Canadian and Swedish expats who were looking to bring the game over to Dubai. They started with around 30 members in a league with just three teams.

How many teams are in the league now? We’ve just recently expanded our organisation. The Camels Club now incorporates different levels of play for all of our members, and we play in three different leagues. The Camels’ League is made up of 12 teams, and we have 250 members in total. We play a 21-game season starting in October, and it runs all the way through to April. Teams change yearly, based on membership numbers and player skill, and the league’s open to all experienced players in Dubai.

We also sponsor a team that plays in the Dubai Night Hockey League. This is a league that the Dubai Ice Hockey Academy has organised for beginners and the less experienced adult skaters. Players on the Camels’ DNHL team are members of our league who are looking for more time out on the ice, at a level that allows for more skill development.

The Camels are also represented in the Emirates Hockey League. This is a six-team league from all over the UAE, so we play against teams from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Players on the Camels’ EHL team are selected from our amateur league, based on their higher level of skill and experience.

What team do you play for? I play in the position of centre for the Dubai Mighty Camels EHL team.

Could anyone join in? Even someone who’s never skated before? We aim to find a place for everyone who wants to play.

If people want to learn to play ice hockey in Dubai, where’s the best place to go? Our organisation’s for people who have at least some previous experience with the game. The Dubai Ice Hockey Academy would be the best place for any beginners out there. For more information on that contact Alex Belomoin at dubaihockeyacademy@gmail.com.

Where do you normally play? There are two ice hockey rinks in Dubai, both providing vastly different experiences. The Camels League and DNHL play on the old rink at Al Nasr Leisureland in Bur Dubai, while the EHL games are held on the fancy new ice at Dubai Mall.

Can people come along to spectate? Sure, the Camels’ League is free to come along and watch, and we’d love to see more spectators. The EHL games at Dubai Mall charge a small fee for seating, but it’s only Dhs15, or you can sit at one of the coffee shops that overlook the rink instead.

What’s on the horizon? The Emirates Hockey League Playoffs begin during the second week of February, at Dubai Mall. And Dubai Mighty Camels International Ice Hockey Tournament takes place April 15 to 18, at Al Nasr Leisureland, Bur Dubai, when 25 recreational teams from around the world will be joining us. It’s free to come and watch.

Find out more at facebook.com/DubaiMightyCamelsEHL

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