How one Russian expat aims to make the UAE an ice hockey force

Vladimir Burdun, a former karate champion, has been appointed as the new president of the Emirates Hockey League
How one Russian expat aims to make the UAE an ice hockey force
Burdun believes he can create a "formidable" UAE team which, by 2020, will be ready to play at international level.
By Sam Bridge
Fri 23 Nov 2018 01:38 AM

A UAE-based Russian businessman is aiming to put to improve the quality of the country’s ice hockey league.

A prominent figure in the community of Russian-speaking expats, Vladimir Burdun, a former karate champion who came to Dubai in the mid-1990s, has been appointed as the new president of the Emirates Hockey League (EHL).

He said he believes he can create a "formidable" UAE team which, by 2020, will be ready to play at international level.

Burdun has managed several businesses, including an import-export company and a restaurant, and first became a name in the UAE sporting scene as the biggest promoter of Thai boxing in the country.

He now plans to focus his sporting experience on propelling the UAE’s ice hockey league to international stardom.

“The main goal of the EHL management is to improve the quality of the league and bring new exposure to the level of play and create bridges with one of the best leagues in Europe, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL),” he said.

The KHL is an international professional ice hockey league. Founded in 2008, it comprises 25-member clubs based in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, and Slovakia, with plans to expand to more countries

Burdun, who is joined by Dmitry Butenko who has been appointed as managing director of EHL, has set his sights on expanding the league to interstate Asian level.

“At the interstate Asian level, teams from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia will be able to take part in tournaments, which in turn will attract highly qualified young players from Europe and Russia to play with the Emirati and expat members of the EHL.”

The UAE may not be the obvious choice for ice and snow sports, but the infrastructure for winter sports in the region is already underway.

A new ice arena is expected to open in Abu Dhabi in 2019 which meets all the requirements of the KHL, Supreme Hockey League (Russia) and Russian Junior Leagues, he said.

Working closely with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), Burdun added: “Ice Hockey is actively developing in the Asian region; China has just enlisted its first club into the KHL and hosted National Hockey League games. Being part of a dynamic, easily accessible region, the UAE has the potential to engage the youth and develop the sport.”

The UAE Emirates Hockey League was founded in 2009 by the country’s Winter Sports Federation and the Emirates Olympic Committee. It is licensed by the International Hockey Federation.

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