ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) plans to kick-off 2018 with hosting a three-nation tournament in Oman next month to prepare the national side for this year’s packed up calendar which is set to witness the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Champions Trophy and the World Cup.
PHF secretary Shahbaz Senior said the federation will be ‘taking help’ from the Asian Hockey Federation for the tournament which will feature teams from the continent only.
“We are planning to host a three-nation tournament in Oman during the third week of February and will request Asian Hockey Federation to help us,” he told Dawn.
The tournament, Shahbaz said, will be a part of the ‘efforts’ which are being made to revive the ailing condition of the national sport.
“I do agree, the performances of team have remained poor in the last few years, as decades old ills cannot be cured in one or two years, but our efforts are underway and now we are expecting good results in the upcoming Asian Games,” he said.
The Asian Games are set to be held in August in Jakarta after the Commonwealth Games in April and Shahbaz said Pakistan will target gold in the former event which is also considered as the qualification round for the 2020 Olympics.
“We are preparing hard to try and win gold in Asian Games, which is also a qualification round for the Olympics. I am hopeful the team will perform brilliantly in the Asian Games,” said the former forward.
To make the most of the opportunities set to come this year, PHF, as it claims, has made big changes to the team management and the selection committee.
“We have a good head coach in the shape of Hasan Sardar, who is being assisted by two other former captains Mohammad Saqlain and Rehan Butt,” Shahbaz said.
“The federation is also in the process of finding a foreign coach for the assistant coach position,” he added.
The PHF Secretary said the upcoming tour of a World XI side will also give a revitalising boost to the hockey atmosphere in the country. The side — which is said to feature players from historically successful hockey nations, namely Argentina, Australia, Netherlands — will play matches in Karachi and Lahore on January 19 and 21 respectively.
“The World XI team will play against young Pakistani players and it will be a big boost for our hockey,” said Shahbaz.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2018