LAHORE -  International hockey is retuning to Pakistan after a long gap in a big way as the World XI comprising stars from hockey’s top nations will be playing two high-profile matches against national hockey team in Karachi and Lahore on January 19 and 21 respectively.

The World XI includes players from the Olympic Champions Argentina, World Champions Australia and European Champions Netherlands. In addition, there are stars from Germany (FIH 5th ranked) and New Zealand (9th ranked).

It is a wonderful blend. The three Argentines are young members of their current national team. Australian Grant Schubert has gold medals from all the big title events; Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Three Dutch players have Olympic as well as European Championship medals. A fourth, the 19 year old Turkstra, played in the 2016 Olympics.

Likewise, two Spaniards have Olympic silver and European gold in their trophy cabinet. Phil Burrows is New Zealand’s all-time top field goal scorer. Germany’s Benni Wess is double Olympic gold medallist. The other German Justus Scharowsky is a World Cup winner.

Pride of Pakistan Sohail Abbas, scorer of the highest number of goals in international hockey, will also play for the World XI. Sohail is still very fit and plays in Pakistan's domestic circuit.

The credit of ending international hockey drought goes to the present set up of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), led by its president Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar as strenuous efforts were made to convince the World XI players to visit Pakistan. “It is going to be a history making moment in Pakistan hockey as we have be having a high profile hockey event after a gap of many years,” said PHF chief Friday.

He said the visit of the World XI is a defining moment in Pakistan hockey as it will help in reviving hockey in which Pakistan is struggling at international hockey. “We need regular international hockey events in order to revive our sagging fortune of our national sport. “World XI tour will help in inspiring the youth to take up hockey as a sport and to provide a rare opportunity to our spectators to watch stars of hockey in action in their own backyard,” he added.

He said the World XI tour will be a way forward to hold the Pakistan Hockey league in a successful way. “With the tour of World XI we will be able to enhance our capability and managerial qualities for hosting the PHL in a trend setting way,” added PHF chief.


Our Staff Reporter