(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) When the UAE ice hockey team takes to the rink on May 27 for the 2012 Gulf Ice Hockey Championship, it will be a proud moment for Emirati player Saeed Sulaiman Rashed Al Nuaimi.
The 21-year-old has spent this academic year learning to balance an international sporting career with full time studies at the Canadian University of Dubai (CUD).
A first year business marketing student, Al Nuaimi plays for the UAE ice hockey team.
"It has been a very busy year," said Al Nuaimi, who also plays for the successful UAE league team the Abu Dhabi Storms. When he is not attending lectures or doing assignments, he is found practicing the sport.
"We train Sunday through to Wednesday from 6.30pm to 10pm, and if the national team has a competition we train morning and evening," he said.
"I play left forward so you have to be fast and active and know how to score goals. Practice is vital."
The hard work has paid off. In India, Sulaiman was responsible for six of the 42 goals scored by the UAE national team, which conceded just three.
But Al Nuaimi is no stranger to success. A year after he was spotted by a hockey player during a visit to an ice rink in the capital he was celebrating the UAE's 2009 Challenge Cup of Asia triumph.
"When I first said that I wanted to play ice hockey my friends and family were shocked and bemused. They couldn't understand how or why I would choose that sport. But now they come to watch me play and really enjoy it."
The team went on to finish second in the 2010 and 2011 tournaments, losing out to Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, respectively. With impressive title wins under the UAE national ice hockey team's belt already, Al Nuaimi and his teammates now have their sights firmly set on retaining the Gulf Cup and moving up the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rankings at the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Europe.
And he is hopeful that his success on the ice can be replicated in the classroom.
"The university is very supportive of my sporting career and whenever I need time off for training camps it has been no problem," he said. "But while I love ice hockey, I take my studies very seriously. My ambition is to graduate in two years' time and open my own business, while being able to continue my sport."