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This female hockey player from United Arab Emirates scores goals and respect

February 27, 2017 at 6:20 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, a female hockey player travels all the way to Washington from Abu Dhabi to meet her favorite NHL team.
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In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The series runs tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday at 9:00 p.m./8:00 Central on most PBS stations.

Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

February is Hockey Is for Everyone Month in the National Hockey League, and one woman traveled all the way from Abu Dhabi to join the celebration.

The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin caught up with her on the ice.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Though you wouldn’t expect it, given her country’s climate, Fatima Al Ali is an ace on the ice. The 27-year-old is from the United Arab Emirates and is shattering preconceptions of what a hockey player looks like.

Al Ali picked up a hockey stick for the first just six years ago, but her puck-handling skills have already earned her a spot on the UAE’s women’s national team. In November, those skills caught the eye of former Washington Capitals star Peter Bondra.

PETER BONDRA, Former NHL Player: I played the game professionally for 23 years. And if I tried to do the stuff which she does, I have to learn, and I’m not sure exactly how it be accomplished, just to be honest.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Bondra was so impressed by Al Ali’s abilities that he posted a video to Twitter, saying, “She has better hands than me.”

That video went viral, and a few weeks later, he surprised Al Ali with a dream trip to meet the Caps. Coincidentally, that’s her favorite NHL team.

PETER BONDRA: February is a month for of Hockey for Everyone. I think you will be a great ambassador for this.

JULIA GRIFFIN: For soft-spoken Al Ali, taking the ice with the team was a thrill of a lifetime.

FATIMA AL ALI, Hockey Player: It’s not expected. It’s just unbelievable.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Over the next hour, the rink was a level playing field. And she wasted no time sliding into drills and scoring goals.

Al Ali’s idol, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin, praised her talent.

ALEX OVECHKIN, Washington Capitals: She’s going to be famous and she’s going to be a star.

JULIA GRIFFIN: But Al Ali doesn’t just impress male counterparts here in the U.S. She also holds her own back home as a men’s games referee.

FATIMA AL ALI: I had two fights before coming here. The first one ended up bad. I got punched in the face with, but I kept — I finished the game. And then the second fight, they told me how to break the fight, so I was just pulling them from their pants.

JULIA GRIFFIN: No matter what side of the puck she is on, Al Ali hopes she can be a role model.

FATIMA AL ALI: I hope that I can inspire enough people, or at least women. Have a dream, just go make it come true.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Fitting advice for pursuing goals from a woman who excels at scoring them.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Julia Griffin in Washington, D.C.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And an inspiration for a lot of little girls looking at hockey.

On the NewsHour online right now, we take a look inside the secret process that’s supposed to prevent mishaps at the Academy Awards like the one that occurred last night over the best picture award.

We also have a trove of conversations with the filmmakers and artists behind the award season’s most acclaimed movies. You can find all of our coverage in our Beyond the Red Carpet series on our Web site, pbs.org/newshour.

 

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