Dubai Mighty Camels captain grew up with ice hockey in his blood

Hockey-lover Ron Murphy found an unlikely home to thrive in his sport in Dubai.

Dubai Mighty Camels ice hockey team captain Ron Murphy, centre, with the EHL Cup. Courtesy photo
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Last week, Ron Murphy led the team to their third Emirates Hockey League (EHL) title after finishing on top of the seven-team league in the regular season.

Murphy, a sales manager and father to a 14-year-old son and nine-year-old twins, started playing hockey age four and played at youth level until 17. He then played Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey for two years before a spell at the NCAA Hockey Elmira College, New York in his early twenties.

Q: When did you land in Dubai and what first brought you here?

A: I was 25 when I moved to Dubai in 1999. My wife grew up here as her father worked for the Jebel Ali Free Zone, so right after graduation from Elmira College in New York we moved to Dubai.

Did you have any idea if ice hockey was played in the UAE before you arrived here?  

No. When I first moved here I only brought my golf clubs. Hockey equipment I had shipped over after I found out about the Dubai Mighty Camels League here. We planned on staying for a couple years but one of the reasons we have stayed so long is because of hockey. There’s not too many places you can golf, play hockey and ski in the same day.

How do you see the future of hockey in the UAE? 

Hockey in the UAE will continue to grow. The Abu Dhabi Ice Sports Club has done a great job promoting hockey in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Sandstorms youth league does the same in Dubai. It is amazing to see the growth over the years, we need more rinks in Dubai, the main hurdle right now is we do not have enough ice time available to the kids and adults in Dubai. The EHL will continue to grow and become more professional. The league has done a great job in the past three-four years making the league more professional. It runs very smoothly and that is a credit to the league.

Are you from a sporting family and how did you pick up the game back home in Canada? 

Yes, obviously in Canada kids are exposed to hockey from a young age. I was fortunate enough to have my brother, two years older than me, show me the way. He played Pro Hockey for 12 years, and my father was drafted in the NHL by the Vancouver Canucks. My dad won the Rookie of the Year in the Quebec Junior League and was in the movie Slapshot [a hockey movie starring Paul Newman]. So I had some great role models in my family.

Who were your sporting role models in the sport? 

My role model growing up was Doug Gilmour. He played for the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a smaller player but played with a lot of tenacity, fun to watch. I met him a few times as his brother and my father are friends. I played golf with Gilmour, still one of my greatest memories.

What’s your best moment in the sport?

My best moment in hockey has been coaching my son. It is amazing to see them grow and get better, and it is a great feeling knowing we can experience hockey together here in Dubai.

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