In a unique initiative, the promoter of Fun Zone Oman, which boasts of having the only ice rink in the country, is set to host the Football on Ice Championship.
Though the concept of playing football on an ice rink is not new, it is the first time that such an event will be organised in Oman.
An artificial futsal pitch has been brought in from overseas to be laid on the ice rink for the five-day championship, which will begin on March 26.
The 1,100sq m ice rink at Fun Zone in Qurm is a popular destination for ice skaters and ice hockey players in the country.
Football players are expected to turn up in large numbers to try out the unique football championship, with the organisers having roped in several football stars in the sultanate to promote the event.
Oman captain and the country’s only footballer in Europe, Ali al Habsi, popular striker Imad al Hosni, former Oman international defenders Khalifa Ayil and Said al Shoon, former Oman captains Saif al Habsi and Ahmed Hadeed, and former Oman striker Badr al Maimani have agreed to promote the championship. The celebrities will mentor one of the participating teams.
According to Ahmed al Hinai, the owner of Fun Zone, a total of 20 teams have so far confirmed their participation in the inaugural edition, while several school teams will also be part of the action on the sidelines of the main championship.
Salim al Habsi, the brain behind the championship, told Muscat Daily , “The football on ice championship is here to stay. It is a perfect getaway from the summer’s heat for football lovers and with the overall temperature in the ice rink hovering at around 20°C, it is a sport that will catch up soon.”
The artificial pitch on the ice rink is safe and the format will be similar to that of futsal. The main difference is that the players will have ice around the pitch and temperatures will be much cooler.
“We are trying this for the first time in Oman and we plan to organise another four or five championships by the end of the year. The response has been encouraging and with football stars actively supporting the event, it is going to be a carnival-like atmosphere,” said Salim. “The national team players will hold autograph-signing sessions and also provide tips to the participating teams. We are all looking forward to the championship. It is a five-day family and fun-filled event and will start at 4pm every day.”