ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) plans to hold a series of matches between national Whites and Juniors at the end of the National Championship later this month.
The decision was taken during Saturday’s visit of PHF President Brigadier (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and Secretary Asif Bajwa to the national junior fitness camp in Abbottabad.
Talking to ‘The News’, Bajwa said the Junior Asia Cup in January in Dhaka was of vital importance to Pakistan hockey. “Since the Junior Asia Cup will also serve as the qualifying round for the 2021 World Cup, the tournament holds great importance to us,” he said.
“It will be the first international tournament for Pakistan following a long break and therefore, our players need practice and exposure against the best. That’s why we have decided to hold a series of matches between national Whites and Juniors.”
Bajwa said inviting a foreign team before the Asia Cup amid the Covid-19 pandemic would not be easy. “Teams are reluctant to travel. So, the best we can do is to organise a series of matches between Whites and Juniors,” Bajwa said. “The National Championship will also help selectors get the best view of the backup players.”
He said the National Championship will be a two-tier tournament with the PHF deciding to introduce a promotion and demotion policy.
The PHF secretary expressed his satisfaction regarding the physical fitness camp in Abbottabad, saying fitness was the basis of hockey training.
“The PHF president made special arrangements for this physical training camp under the watchful eyes of Army trainers. During my two days’ stay in Abbottabad, I have observed a very positive trend among the youngsters as everyone is working hard to get in top shape,” Bajwa said.
Meanwhile, the camp’s strength has grown to 42 players following the inclusion of three youngsters from AJK and two from Gilgit-Baltistan. “Keeping our promise, players from AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan have also been included in the camp. All these players will be part of the technical training camp to be established later,” Bajwa said.