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The PTCL Hockey Cup trophy was unveiled by the captains of World XI and Pakistan at Edhi Stadium here on Thursday.

Officials and players expressed their hope that the two matches between the two teams will bring back international hockey to Pakistan and boost the country’s performance in international tournaments.

PHF president Brig (rtd) Khalid Khokhar said it was a historic event as it marked the beginning of the revival of international hockey in the country. He said that the PHF had been working for this big event for more than a year.

He said that FIH itself felt that Pakistan’s presence was imperative for the world of hockey. “Today former and current renowned players of the world are here, which sends a positive message to all the other hockey-playing countries,” he added.

He thanked the FIH for assisting PHF in the revival of international hockey. Khokhar welcomed all the former greats and members of the World XI. He said that Pakistan had produced so many great players that it was not possible to acknowledge their services in a single event.

Khokhar said more players would get Hall of Fame awards after some time. Paul Litjens of Holland, one of the most gifted penalty corner specialists, said that he was happy to be in Pakistan and that he felt safe.

Litjens said he last visited Pakistan in 1992 to play a benefit match for former Pakistan captain Islahuddin. He hoped that the World XI tour and presence of other legends of the game would induce hockey-playing nations to send their teams to Pakistan.

PTCL chief commercial officer Adnan Shahid said that his institution would continue to support PHF for the revival of the national game. Holland’s Floris Jan Bovelander, a great penalty corner striker of his time, also spoke on the occasion and hoped that the presence of hockey legends and the visit of World XI would revive international hockey in Pakistan and boost its performance in the major tournaments.

Bovelander shared his memories of playing against Pakistan and visiting the country. He appreciated PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed for inviting the foreign players. Meanwhile, PHF confirmed that Sohail Abbas would not be part of World XI in any of the two matches. It is pertinent to mention here that players from seven countries are part of the World XI, including Argentina, Germany, Holland, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Syed Intikhab Ali

The News 19-jan-18