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Former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh wants the PHF to organise a match against the World XI visiting Pakistan next year at the stadium in Rawalpindi which has been established by the Punjab government with a green turf and the facility of floodlights.
The stadium has been named after him by the provincial government to honour him for his services to hockey. Shahnaz informed ‘The News’ from Rawalpindi that the Punjab government bore all the expenditure of the newly-laid turf, which was imported from Holland.
The laying of the turf and other development work is 98 percent complete. He said that floodlights have also been installed at the stadium, which has seating capacity for 5000 spectators. He said it would be befitting to inaugurate the stadium with a match against the World XI.
He said that the registration of boys at the academy would start from December, and that it would be operational from January. Shahnaz said that boys of age 14 to 18 would be trained at the academy.
He said that one of the main things was that the stadium had an imported cleaning machine for the turf. No other stadium in the country has that machine, he added. He said that he had been working hard for many years to establish the stadium to open a hockey academy to train youngsters.
Shahnaz, who was considered a magician in the game due to his tactics on the field when he played, said he wanted to train the young generation because Pakistan had not been doing well at the international level.
He said that Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and former MNA Hanif Abbasi had played an important role in establishing the new stadium.Punjab Sports Board (PSB) and Rawalpindi Hockey Association (RHA) executed the project.
He hoped that soon young talent would come out of the academy to serve Pakistan. He said many departments and clubs had been contacting him to organise tournaments at the stadium. He said the new Stadium would prove a lifeline for hockey in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and the adjoining areas.
Syed Intikhab Ali -The News