Desert nation sets up ice hockey league

Ice hockey is hardly the most suitable sport for a desert nation where temperatures can soar as high as 50C – but Turkmenistan’s President has ordered state officials to create a hockey league.

Turkmenistan has overcome the weather by using revenue generated from its natural gas exports to build costly indoor skating rinks.

Critics are unlikely to make their thoughts public in a country where government opponents face severe reprisals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has recently been busily preaching the need for his former Soviet Central Asian nation to become a sporting power and has personally led the way by showing off his active side.

At the weekend, he donned ice hockey garb and skated at a new indoor arena in the capital, Ashgabat. Afterward, teams played in the country’s first ever ice-hockey tournament – an event organised for the “Week of Health and Happiness” devised by Mr Berdymukhamedov.

The president won elections in February with 97 per cent of the vote and the ceaseless idolisation of the leader bears strong hallmarks of the cult of personality built by Mr Berdymukhamedov’s eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died unexpectedly in late 2006.

Related topics: