The next miracle on ice

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Turkmenistan goalies dare not block this guy's shots (lick to enlarge)
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Above is a picture of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the former dentist and current President of Turkmenistan wearing a hockey jersey and holding a hockey stick. You may wonder, considering the fact that Turkmenistan is a desert country, "what's up with that?"

Berdymukhamedov, after getting over his infatuation with his yacht and his plans to turn his resort Avaza into the Monaco of the East as well as the Las Vegas of the East, has settled on a new scheme -- bringing the Olympic Gold Medal in hockey to Turkmenistan. 

It may have something to do with Berdymukhamedov blowing gobs of money on a gigantic sports complex which many observers believe is his first step in attempting to win the rights to host the Olympics in the near future.

Whatever his motive, to create his new hockey teams and prepare them for international competition Berdymukhamedov has ordered the ministers of various departments in his government to each form a hockey team. As the Turkmenistan government website reports:
The Turkmen leader instructed the relevant officials to create hockey teams at the basis of other branches of the national economy and to provide the teams with all necessary equipment and conditions for development.

The Turkmen leader also underlined the necessity of developing an efficient system of material encouragement of sportsmen wining the prize places of the Olympic Games, prestigious international and national competitions, their coaches and other specialists. The President of Turkmenistan demanded the relevant officials to draft a Resolution allowing Masters of Sports and qualified coaches practicing sports at the contract basis.

Minister of Internal Affairs I. Imamkuliev reported on creation of the hockey team of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan.

Commenting on the report, the President of Turkmenistan gave specific instructions to the relevant officials to take all necessary measures to promote such a new for our country sport as hockey and create the modern conditions for training jockey teams for the competitions of various levels.

It was also underlined the necessity to draft an emblem and design of the outfit for each team.

Government agencies as the basis for Olympic gold winning hockey teams? Sounds like a plan to me.  

At an rate, the first tournament -- the President’s Hockey Junior Cup -- was held on World Health Day, which occurs during the Week of Health and Happiness. In that tournament the Burgut team of the State Committee for Tourism and Sports of Turkmenistan came out on top and thus Turkmenistan Championship Hockey was born.