Desert nation Turkmenistan to create ice hockey league
Wednesday 11 April 2012
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 enterprises and departments to create a hockey league.
Turkmenistan has overcome the weather issue by using revenue generated from its natural gas exports to build costly indoor skating rinks.
Critics of the idea are unlikely to make their thoughts public in a country where government opponents face severe reprisals.
President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has in recent months 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 in front of thousands of people at a recently constructed indoor arena in the capital, Ashgabat. Afterward, teams played in the country's first ever ice-hockey tournament - one of several events organised for the "Week of Health and Happiness" recently devised by Mr Berdymukhamedov.
Earlier that same day, the president unexpectedly took part in a time-trial car race, and won.
These displays appear to be part of a state-engineered design to project the president - who won presidential elections in February with 97% of the vote - as a man of action.
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.
In previous outings, Mr Berdymukhamedov has been seen jogging, playing volleyball, riding horses, cycling, practising judo and taekwondo, and shooting at a firing range.
In the non-sporting field, state media has reported on Mr Berdymukhamedov, a 54-year old trained dentist, removing a tumour from a cancer patient and flying a plane.
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
Kim Jong-un is awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Calais crisis: Migrants that have made it to the UK reveal how Britain has matched their expectations
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...